Letter to Cricket Australia

A cloud of doubt over the Australian Men’s Cricket Team’s tour to Pakistan in early 2022 prompted the following letter.


Upcoming tour of Pakistan by the Australian Men’s Cricket Team

Dear Mr. Hockley, Executive, Mr. Freudenstein, and board members,

I am writing to you in relation to the Australian Cricket Team’s upcoming tour of Pakistan in February 2022.

I had written the following letter during the last week of October and was waiting on a few more signatures; but, we are now all overjoyed with this week’s news of Cricket Australia’s decision to proceed with the tour of Pakistan in early 2022.

England’s recent withdrawal from the tour to Pakistan and New Zealand’s abandonment of the tour after having arrived had left many disappointed and disillusioned. In particular, the reneging on reciprocal contractual obligations by the English Men’s Team has understandably left the head of the PCB feeling frustrated and resentful as noted by Ali Martin in his article for The Guardian.

Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricket Team are now uniquely placed to rise to the occasion in the international cricketing community, as well as to make the 90,000-strong Pakistani diaspora in Australia extremely proud and happy for both teams by proceeding with the tour.

As a five-time visitor to Pakistan between 2007 and 2019 and accidental brand ambassador, I am in a strong position to testify to the overwhelming hospitality accorded by Pakistanis. Indeed, SMH journalist Andrew Wu affirms that visiting teams are given the royal treatment, with commensurate security. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Pakistan toward the end of 2019 without incident. Further, the Pakistan Cricket Team visited New Zealand in 2020, after massacres in two mosques in Christchurch in 2019, as well as enduring compliance with COVID19 quarantine regulations.

Several photos in my albums depict Pakistanis’ passion for cricket: young boys setting up a wicket on the street outside the Mohatta Palace in Karachi and, too, outside the Wazir Khan Mosque in the Old Town in Lahore. Any place is a great place to bat up.

Impromptu game in the old town in Lahore
Photo credit: Danielle M. Gehrmann

Despite general, negative perceptions about the country, Pakistan has weathered the COVID19 storm infinitely better than neighbouring India, thanks to gold-standard contact tracing systemised during the polio vaccination drive, plus it has submitted to a relatively low percentage of mortalities, at .01%, compared to India, at .03%, to date.

During this time, as many countries emerge from COVID19 with a sense of renewed hope and rejuvenation, so many wish to grasp some positivity and enjoy life again. And a visit by an international sports team will unfurl economic advantages for a decimated local economy.

Compared to UK and US, Australia and Australians are perceived relatively positively in Pakistan; yet, after some recent faux pas on the world stage by Australia’s incumbent leadership, some positive PR via soft diplomacy will be of immense value to Australia’s less-than-glowing reputation.  

In light of an active anti-Pakistan campaign to make the country a scapegoat for abject failures of USA and its allies in Afghanistan, Cricket Australia has a unique opportunity to show leadership, mend rifts and bridge divides – to hit the reset button. The power of people-to-people contact should always be highly valued. Excessive jitteriness over travel to Pakistan only serves to perpetuate divide and negativity. Pakistanis and the PCB deserve to be treated with sincerity and without condescension.

Such a unique opportunity to play a vital, pivotal role in Australia-Pakistan relations, as well as for the wider cricket community will afford unquestionable mutual benefits.

Congratulations on making the right decision. It’s a win-win.     

Yours faithfully,

Danielle M. Gehrmann – www.daniellegehrmann.com

Saleem H. Ali – Honorary Professor, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland

Zushan Hashmi – Co-founder, Sportageous

Jeremy Higgs – COO, EcoEnergy

Shaan Zaidi – Chairman, CyberHub

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