March 3, 2024
Special tour makes it feel like cricket has come home - Aatif Nawaz

England players were thanked by Pakistani fans for their support throughout the tour.

As I sat down for my first commentary session of this historical tour, I couldn’t help smiling. It was a moment of great significance.

“England is my home, and Pakistan is my heritage for the first time in 17 years.”

Many teams have visited Pakistan since Test cricket was resumed in Pakistan in 2019. Sri Lanka, South Africa, Australia, and West Indies. This England tour was special because of something.

The excitement felt by Pakistani fans was palpable, from the praise shown to England’s stars to the anticipation to see ‘Bazball’ play before their eyes.

Many locals have expressed their gratitude for England’s footballers, especially James Anderson and his remarkable career. Many fans have displayed signs of gratitude to the England team for their visit.

My favorite moment was when Fazal Mahmood’s Multan enclosure sang “Harry Harry, Harry, Harry” as batter Harry Brook was stationed at the boundary.

Brook is a popular figure in Pakistan, and it’s not surprising that he has received such praise. Brook’s contribution to the Lahore Qalandars during the previous editions of the Pakistan Super League is still fresh in his mind. He seemed to be genuinely touched by the statue made of metal in his image outside the stadium at Multan.

Special tour makes it feel like cricket has come home - Aatif Nawaz
England’s players and fans have enjoyed a warm welcome from Pakistan

These are the exact same players that have afflicted the home team throughout the series. The local fans show great appreciation for good cricket and are generous in applauding wickets and milestones.

It is quite amazing to think that even though England took an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the series, local supporters are still excited to go to see them. They want to get a glimpse at England’s stars and show their appreciation for their visit.

This appreciation was reciprocated by England’s touring fans. Inzamam-ul-Haq Enclosure was in Multan, where many visiting England fans shared stories about fans staying with local families and receiving gifts or refusing to take their money as guests.

The hosts lived up to the Pakistani idea of Mehmaannawazi – hospitality. Tourists were treated to culinary delights, excursions, and world-class cricket.

After this trip, the relationship between the cricket boards of both countries will be stronger. Many fans have already pledged to return in 2024. The smart money is on a larger touring contingent for the next Test series in Pakistan.

I can recall being in Pakistan in 2009 when the attack on Sri Lanka’s team occurred.

It was obvious that it would have a negative impact on Pakistani cricket, so we went through a difficult phase. Slowly but surely, Pakistan is regaining its exile.

It’s almost as if cricket has returned home to Pakistan with the England tour.


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