Pakistan’s home series is a success, but they need to play India.

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By Creative Media News

You may have noticed that watching England’s series versus Pakistan has negative effects. Some are readily apparent, such as a budding attraction to Harry Brook’s inside-out drives. Others, though, are not so. You may have a nagging impulse to switch to Sensodyne toothpaste “because life is too short for sensitive teeth,” to drink Tapal Tea “because it makes teatime fantastic,” or to use Osaka Tubular Deep Cycle Premium Batteries.

You may even be filled with unexplainable interest in the most recent Dawlance Power Wash Challenge, in which members of the public compete on rowing machines for a washing machine.

It is easy to snicker at the periodic cutaways to approved toothpaste users joyously chomping on ice lollies in the stands and drinkers grinning for the cameras over a steaming cup of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s official tea in the small wooden hut on the boundary.

Pakistan's home series is a success, but they need to play india.
Pakistan's home series is a success, but they need to play india.

Honestly, the joke is even funnier when you consider how some of the commentators who are contractually obligated to deliver these spiels feel about doing so (“Always good to see Waqar,” Mark Butcher tweeted alongside a photo of him and Waqar, “here we are, cooking up more toothpaste advertisements”). However, something quietly intriguing is occurring beneath all of this commercialism.

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Pakistan's home series is a success, but they need to play india.

The PCB is losing money on this tour as a result of the security preparations for these seven games. According to the most recent data from the British High Commission, Pakistan is safer than it has ever been since 2004, but the PCB cannot bring international teams here without providing VVIP protection, which includes thousands of soldiers, dozens of armored cars, and helicopters.

For the squad to enter and exit the stadium in Karachi, the key highways leading to and from the local hospital have to be closed. In Lahore, the entire city block around England’s hotel has been sealed off.

It will be the same when the Ireland women’s team visits in November when the New Zealand men’s team visits in December, and in the years to come. There is so much at stake that the PCB cannot afford to not pay the price. Any infraction would be irreversible.

And they must do it despite an evident disadvantage compared to every other Test-playing nation. They are the only team in the world that does not receive any advantage from facing India. Since their last bilateral series a decade ago, they have only played each other in international tournaments.

Pakistan's home series is a success, but they need to play india.
Pakistan's home series is a success, but they need to play india.

Which, in cricket’s unbalanced economy, is like batting with one hand tied behind one’s back. The television rights for series versus India are so much more lucrative than any other aspect of the sport that most boards rely on them to subsidize the expense of organizing all other tours.

Last winter, India’s 10-match tour of South Africa was worth £80 million to the hosts. The prosperous years when India visits allow the board to survive the leaner years when everyone else arrives. It is the same for everyone, including Australia and England, who faced a £40 million financial hole when the fifth Test at Old Trafford was abandoned last year.

However, Pakistan must go without. And this is just the beginning of the issue. Since its second season, Pakistan’s players have been barred from the Indian Premier League, and as IPL teams acquire franchises in other leagues, they are now barred from those competitions as well.

This week, when asked about it, Moeen Ali remarked, “It’s a shame because they’re such good players who would only elevate the level of cricket.” I feel sorry for them because they are likely missing out on a substantial amount of money. This adds more pressure to the game. The PCB is subject to the same currents that everyone else must traverse.

Similar to what the ECB did with the Hundred, the PCB is establishing its new Junior League for under-19 players from throughout the world to develop new revenue streams. And these anti-Pakistani practices will become a headache for the English board if, as is generally anticipated, it allows private financing for the competition. Currently, the evidence implies that any money from India would be contingent on whether or not Pakistanis are permitted to play.

The PCB is frustrated by the lack of opposition from other Test-playing nations to all of this. There are compelling moral arguments in this case, but cricket’s dismal realpolitik means that, despite receiving a great deal of sympathy, no one will make demands of India on their behalf.

England’s attempt to initiate negotiations about holding a series in Birmingham is the only action that has been taken thus far. The expectation is that playing the game on the neutral ground will defuse any tensions. Getting the match play would be a tremendous boost for Test cricket.

The PCB would prefer that teams could host their games. And relations between the boards have improved after Ramiz Raja and Sourav Ganguly assumed control of the PCB and BCCI, respectively. They toured each other’s countries as players, and Raja feels, based on his own experiences, that the majority of fans in both countries feel warmer toward players from the other country than the savage arguing on social media would suggest.

However, the decision as to whether or not it will occur is being made at a higher level than Ganguly himself. There are indications that things may also be steadily improving there. Whoever enjoys the game and believes in its capacity to bring people together will hope that the politicians move quickly.

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