It’s not very often that you see Pakistanis and Indians agreeing with each other over anything that involves the word ‘cricket’ but strangely, amidst all the rivalry, we saw some cross border love during the ICC Champion’s Trophy 2017.
It all started when our captain Sarfaraz Ahmed panicked at the sight of reporters who were only conversing in English after Pakistan won their way to the semi-finals of the ICC Champion’s Trophy. Indians immediately jumped to defend Sarfaraz. Social media was bursting with Indians who claimed that Sarfaraz’s English should be the least of our concerns, especially since his team was performing well. Former Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag also took to Twitter to defend Sarafaraz: “Criticizing Sarfaraz for not speaking English is insane. His job is to play & he has done brilliantly to take Pakistan in finals #StopColonialMindset” he tweeted.
Even Hamza Ali Abbasi put up a video on Facebook which later went viral, saying that we need to stop making fun of our cricketer’s English and focus on their game instead. He also suggested that our cricketers should be encouraged to speak in their own language and have a translator around during interviews. Therefore the support came from both sides.
One can’t help but think, where else have we heard this bid against our colonial insecurities recently? Maybe Hindi Medium has something to do with it? Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar’s recent hit film opened up the pandora’s box about a topic that isn’t discussed openly in Pakistan or in India: why are we so ashamed of our own language? This attitude runs deep in liberal, educated Pakistanis where Urdu is considered an inferior language and anyone who can’t converse in English properly is to be made fun of (like Meera jee who has been ridiculed for years). Apparently, this has been the case in India as well.
But one can witness the winds of change with the way all of India and Pakistan rose to defending Sarfaraz. We all think that our cricketers need to be trained in terms of how to speak to reporters after a match, and it’s not just about getting the language right, it’s also about saying something intelligent and precise. But the pressure to speak in English must be relaxed and PCB should look into this issue.