GeneralThis Is A Cry For Help

This Is A Cry For Help

As per the vernacular of modern love, a ‘situationship’ can be loosely defined as a mutual agreement between two individuals who want to be attached romantically, but not really, so they stay in a boundaryless, non-committal purgatory of feeling. Do they vaguely enjoy each other’s company to maybe get a coffee sometimes and ruin their digital footprint? Possibly. But do they care about each other enough to get married? Envision paying taxes together, bringing the groceries inside with all four arms on a Saturday afternoon, and taking their cat to the vet in the middle of the night? Probably not. Attachments in the modern day thus become areas of great imbalance – one party is usually way more invested than the other, more enthusiastic about putting in effort, and more patient in the face of conflict.

These days, I feel like Pakistan cricket has been my longest-running situationship – and I’m left with the shorter end of an already short stick.

I don’t want to marry cricket – I’m not that far gone. But I do feel like a besieged partner – a teenager staring at a text they sent that never got a response, a friend who got strung along only to be deserted, a dog at a shelter who someone promised they would adopt but decided to abandon anyway.

Watching this team play has increasingly started to feel like a one-sided affair – fans watch, fans put their heart-health and brain-health at risk, and fans need to be kept away from breakable items and sharp objects, year after year, tournament after tournament. The team says, alright. We might show up this time! Sometimes, the team does. The team takes its catches, makes its runs. Holds the door open, brings you flowers. You’re so happy. You have the best team in the world – Pakistan cricket at its very best. But on the days it doesn’t show up, it’s carnage – it will take great pains to lose games it had pretty much won. It will not only make mistakes – but exactly the ones it has made a million times before and leave you reeling. It will ghost you when you need it and when you think it should have shown up.

It is one thing to be an unpredictable team – a label I hate, both for what it takes away from my team and for the precedent it sets: unpredictable means the wins are flukes, the periods of success miraculous, and the defeats entirely circumstantial. It is an entirely different thing to be deflated – to be so utterly answerless that those who watch you can’t seem to figure out what went that wrong. To botch a chase of 120 runs from 120 balls can’t just be a lapse. To lose to a team you surpass both in skill and experience – at least on paper – can’t just be a bad day at the office. The rot must start somewhere deeper, but for now, as a fan, it’s just really hard not to feel simply uncared for.

Of course, the months and months of instability at the highest and lowest and middle-est levels were bound to catch up to us at some point: the rotation of captains and support staff and coaching staff. The lack of any structure whatsoever, and the lack of a rationale behind how the management and selection committees are constructed. The years of committing to an archaic, dated batting strategy in the shortest format and the persistence with which any and all accountability is brushed off by the cogs in the machine, who are the most culpable of damaging the entire contraption. There has to be an answer, by anyone, for any question.

The key to a good partnership is healthy communication. When something is wrong, you tell the other party and ask them what’s happening. So we tell them – we scream and shout and tweet, crunch the numbers, write the articles. We shout it from the rooftops, we write it on our posters. The most burning question, then, is that if the fans know what’s wrong, and if the opponents know what’s wrong, and if every Twitter analyst spamming down on a keyboard knows what’s wrong – then why does the dressing room seem so protected from this awareness? The symptom, then, leads us to the illness: is it the lack of stability? Is it the consequence of months of cluelessness? Or is it simply a lack of desire to perform? Forgive me for being too dramatic – but there are only so many heartbreaks an already heartbroken fan can take before they start asking the enraged, accusatory questions.

My team would fight – it would spark joy in the worst of defeats. It would dive to save a boundary even if the match was clearly lost, and it wouldn’t leave a full-toss ball in the climax of an important run chase. This doesn’t feel like my team, and these don’t feel like my boys. So, as a tired, wound-up fan, I just want to ask: don’t we deserve better?

You know what they say: if he wanted to, he would. And these days, it feels like he doesn’t want to – not a little bit, not at all.

The author

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