Cricket at Ground Zero
The recent cricket match has, once again, proved that the best contests are between arch-rivals, Pakistan and India. No matter what our internal problems, politics and weaknesses, pre-and post-match media coverage and thrill created by national and international print and electronic media has been great.
PAK-INDIA-CRICKETMore than 700,000 people applied for tickets to the cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and India in Manchester in a stadium that holds about 23,500 spectators. Some of the spectators were ready to purchase tickets for up to 2,500 to 3,000 pounds sterling.
The two sides have not been playing bilateral series. There only play against one another in International Cricket Ccouncil events like the Champions Trophy, the World Cup. The 1.6 billion people of Pakistan and India love to watch their teams play against each other.
There has been no cricket between these two countries for many years except for the World Cup and the Champions Trophy matches. The two teams have not been playing in each other’s country.
These are a few reasons that attract huge national and international cricket viewership for the matches between Pakistan and India. But unfortunately, due to some very serious reasons, cricket teams of both countries cannot visit to play cricket in each other’s country.
In the past, Pakistan and India have used cricket diplomacy to ease the tensions between them
In the past, Pakistan and India have used cricket diplomacy to ease the tensions between them. During cricket matches, dignitaries and celebrities watched matches live from grounds, which encouraged both the spectators and players. It is always a good sign to promote peace and harmony between the two nations.
Players and artists are informal ambassadors for their countries. That’s why they readily get visas. Players and nations do not have any issue in playing cricket with each other. It has been proved at several occasions. Spectators enjoy cricket, at any level, in any country, between the two.
Every evening at Wagha, tourists from both countries gather and enjoy the flag lowering ceremony on both sides. Local and foreign tourists love to attend this ceremony. It is a very good platform for people to gather to promote peace.
Last year, the newly elected government of Imran Khan decided to open the Kartarpur passage for Sikh pilgrims and upgrade the worship place at Kartarpur.
As a cricket lover, it is my suggestion to our former cricketer and present prime minister that in the current scenario there is one way to resume cricket between the two nations at national level: both countries should construct a cricket stadium at ‘ground zero’. There is already a huge pavilion on both sides of the Wagha border. Both countries can follow the same concept, and build a cricket stadium, half in Pakistan and half in India, at ground zero.
This idea may seem very strange to the readers, but if we build a stadium at ground zero, it will benefit both countries in different ways. Half of the stadium will be constructed by Pakistan, and half by India, and it will be done on an international standard construction level. Pitch and ground will be considered as ground zero where players from both sides can play. We do not need any security clearance or heavy security for players. Relevant pavilions can be constructed on both sides.
If we look at the structure of the Wagha border pavillion, there is only one concrete wall between the two countries, and tourists sit on both sides without any hesitation and without any security concerns. The same location or point can also be converted into an international standard cricket ground, which can be utilised both for the flag ceremony and cricket matches.
This ground can be the eighth wonder of the world. Both nations can enjoy cricket. Cricket can bring peace and harmony between the two countries. Both cricket boards can get huge business as cricket between Pakistan and India attracts huge viewership. This will also give an opportunity to both teams to play and learn a great deal from each other.
The key players in the opening of the Kartarpur corridor can also play a role in making this possible. It is the need of the hour to defuse the tension between the two countries.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.