The Cricket World Cup 2011 starts today. Held every four years, the cricket world cup is the most watched cricket tournament in the world. This year, the world cup is going to be co-hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately due to the terrorist threat, no match can take place in Pakistan even though it was also supposed to co-host. No international matches have been held in Pakistan after the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. This is a great loss for a cricket-loving country that wears its infatuation on its sleeve. Unless and until terrorism is eradicated from our soil, Pakistani fans will have to reconcile to the reality of watching international matches on their television screens only.The opening ceremony of the Cricket World Cup 2011 took place in Dhaka on Thursday. It was a grand event and captured the cricket mania quite magnificently. The Captains of 14 cricket nations contesting this tournament made quite an entrance on cycle-rickshaws amidst much fanfare. The pressure on these 14 cricket teams is immense. In a random dope test conducted by the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) drug inspectors, three Pakistani players — Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Kamran Akmal — were tested. Shoaib Akhtar tested positive for a banned substance in 2006 and was consequently banned. Akhtar may have learnt his lesson as far as drugs are concerned but he seems to be as undisciplined as ever. Both Wahab Riaz and Akhtar were fined by the PCB for returning late from a dinner on Wednesday. Riaz should thank his stars for escaping the spot-fixing scandal last year by the skin of his teeth but if he keeps indulging in such indiscipline, he may not have a very bright future in cricket.
On another note, Salman Butt is under the ICC’s radar once again after making a deal with a private television channel to appear as a studio pundit during the world cup. In the ICC’s view, this is against the spirit of the ban on him and since he would be in contact with key players in order to analyse the matches, it does not sound like a very good idea. Mr Butt and the local channel should reconsider this deal.Cricket is a gentleman’s game but there is no dearth of elements who have no respect for this sport or anything else. The extremist right-wing Hindu party, Shiv Sena, has warned the Pakistan cricket team that if it reaches the final in Mumbai, it will not be allowed to play. We owe the Shiv Sena a vote of thanks for flattering our team so much and inadvertently giving it a big vote of confidence. We hope that if Pakistan reaches the final, the ICC, BCCI and the Indian government will make sure that no mischief takes place. Only time will tell who wins this world cup, but the spirit of cricket, buffeted severely of late, will surely win everyone’s hearts and minds – Dailytimes