Interview of Cricket Fans – 90 – Pakistan

Jay – Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories of this sport.

My earliest memory is a pretty funny one! It was England v Pakistan at Lord’s in 2001. I was 6 years old at the time and it was my first ever match in a stadium. I was amazed at the number of people and the atmosphere was just incredible – credit to my dad for kickstarting my love for the game.

So, England needed 3 to win off the last ball and I believe it was Caddick on strike; everyone stood up for that final ball but for some reason, I stayed sitting in my seat and because I was small at the time I completely missed what happened! I just looked around to see which set of fans were doing the screaming and joined in when I realised Pakistan had won. Anytime I see the match being re-run on TV I make it a point to make sure I watch that last ball.

Jay – What has been the positive impact of cricket in your life?

Family time. My parents are mad about the game and whilst my mum now doesn’t follow as much as she used to, my dad is still crazy about it. Sitting with him, whether it’s at home or on the ground, to watch a match just makes me immensely happy. We talk, we discuss, analyse, dissect, cheer, groan and everything in between during a match and cricket has helped us to bond over the many years. Whether Pakistan win or lose, watching a match with my dad is all that I need and cricket has been the glue for us.

Jay – Which cricketer’s story inspires you the most?

Nicholas Pooran’s story of how he has come back to cricket after his career-threatening injury. You can imagine the thoughts he must have had at such a young age when he had his accident, how he would have been worrying if he would ever play cricket again, a dream he probably had for as long as he could remember.

Just look at that fielding effort in the IPL recently and you will see how many poured out their love for him and had such admiration for how far he has come from that terrible moment. To not only overcome the physical, but the mental aspect too is so inspiring and Pooran is one of the most exciting young talents out there and will surely, without a doubt, be a household name very very soon.

Jay – On April 11, 2013, you got an internship of Sky Sports and then 6 years later in 2019, you got the job as an Assistant Producer, talk us through this journey.

I will start off by saying I have been incredibly blessed with unbelievable support from my parents to get to where I am today. Applying for the internship and then deciding to stay on after (even though we were supposed to go to university after our 1 year of the internship was completed) was one of the biggest decisions of my life and my parents backed me up all the way and stood behind me.

Applying for the internship was just like any other job; online application, phone interview, in-person interview and assessment task until finally 6 of us were picked out of hundreds of applications. I did 11 months in Production where I learnt about all that goes on behind the scenes and spent a lot of time working with people in various departments such as lights, cameras, sound, floor managers, editing etc. Some people even said to me that I had seen more in 11 months than they had in 15 years!

From there I was offered a freelance contract with one of the departments I worked with and then they had a permanent position open up a few months after which I got. I stayed with them for about 2 years and then moved on to a department that worked closely with production teams and at that point, I was thinking to myself about what I wanted to do at Sky long term and I came up with my end goal – one day I wanted to work for the Sky Cricket department.

In my second role, I worked hard to get to where I wanted to. I would go in on my off days and used my lunchtimes to shadow the cricket team to see what they did and to get my name and face recognised. Along with that I started some studio work in the department I was working in which worked closely with the cricket team and so they got to know me a bit better as time went on. Only after a year and a half, I was sent an email by a producer letting me know of a role coming up within the team and that I should apply for it. I did and the rest, as they say, is history.

Jay – Tell us about the Pakistani Cricket community in the UK in terms of the seasons that they follow there.

As you can imagine, Pakistani fans are absolutely cricket-mad here in the UK and when it comes to Pakistan touring here, the atmosphere is crazy. If you’re a cricket fan then you love all cricket and the Pakistani community, of course, love all the matches that happen here and follow tours and leagues across the world – but when it comes to a hardcore following – Pakistan tours to England and the PSL in Pakistan are probably the 2 most followed cricket seasons.

Jay – How did you feel when International Cricket was banned in Pakistan?

I remember waking up for school that morning and turning the TV on to see a helicopter in the middle of the ground with the words ‘Sri Lankan cricket team attacked’ in big bold writing across the bottom. I didn’t look at it much and ran upstairs to wake my parents up and told them to watch the news – and we watched in horror.

At that time I was 15 years old and didn’t think about the wider implications of what I had seen but as time went on and Pakistan was stripped of ICC events and banned from hosting tours at home it hit me. This was something that I had never seen before and it being Pakistan made it hurt 10 times more.

Jay – Cricket is returning there and countries have started touring this part of the world, it must be an exciting time for fans, your thoughts?

As a British Pakistani, it excites me that I can go to Pakistan one day and watch a home match in the stadium. I have been to Pakistan a countless number of times but have never watched a match there. For people in Pakistan themselves, it’s an unbelievable thing that cricket is returning for them. Imagine a nation starved of International home cricket for over a decade, where children have grown up watching their team play at ‘home’ in Dubai, not being able to see their stars and idols. A return of cricket to Pakistan goes further beyond than just the game coming back; it sets up a whole new generation and that I think is the most exciting part of it.

I am so blessed that cricket is now returning to Pakistan at a time where I am also working in cricket and it just feels like I am in the perfect place at the perfect time.

Jay – Views on Pakistan-India rivalry? And what is your all-time Pak-Ind XI?

In all honesty, whilst the rivalry is still there in terms of drumming up hype and being one of the biggest contests in cricket, it’s clear to see that there is a widening gulf between the two – with India pulling further and further ahead.

The matches will still have hype, of that there is no doubt but my biggest feeling towards it is to treat it as it is – a cricket match. Supporting your team is fantastic but abusing is a huge no-no, we all love the game and cricket is known to be a gentleman’s sport and the fans should certainly follow suit.

If I had to pick my all-time XI, I would go with players I really liked/like as opposed to picking ‘the best’ in terms of stats :

1. Virender Sehwag
2. Saeed Anwar
3. Virat Kohli
4. Babar Azam
5. Yuvraj Singh
6. Shahid Afridi
7. M.S. Dhoni (wk)
8. Imran Khan ©
9. Wasim Akram
10. Waqar Younis
11. Saqlain Mushtaq

Thank you so much for reading. Hope you guys liked it. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking on my name @bhavsarJ2_0 and make sure you don’t miss out any other cricket related interviews.

Thank you for this comment on my previous post.

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