As Britain (and the West) was forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The many issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony to the British gift to the modern world. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis.
Till the 1983, world cricket was run by the UK and Australia. These countries, of course, had veto power, had the funding, to control the game. In 1983, however, Britain and Australia hit a financial roadblock - the 1987 World Cup sponsorship. They did not have a sponsor in place for the 1987 World Cup. And then India stepped in. India roped in Dhirubhai Ambani for the sponsorship. India roped in Pakistan to put in a joint bid for the 1987 World Cup.
What was Special
This was, simply, without a precedent. For three reasons.
First, this was a unique case, where rich and developed countries could not find a sponsor for a sporting event, which they dominated. And a poor country could.
India, in 1987, still had a waiting period for Bajaj Scooters. Maruti cars had just been introduced. Colour TV sets were rare and colour TV transmission had started a few years old - and a luxury. Competitive bidding for TV rights was not possible - and could be sold only to a public sector TV transmission monopoly. Computers in India were rare and far in between. Private sector as we knew it was non-existent. Licenses were required for everything. Foreign exchange situation was precarious. Hence, for a poor country to bid for a World Cup was unprecedented.
The second major challenge was the organization. Indian bureaucracy was then (much more than now) a minefield. Myriad laws made any kind of complicated organization a nightmare. Private sector was seen with suspicion. Indian films still portrayed businessmen as villains. Indian software industry was nowhere in sight. India did not have even one (private sector) company in the Fortune 500 list. To say the least, it was audacious, at a time when India dominated by stereotypes (more then than now).
But the third element that has remained unrecognized was the working of the India Pakistan partnership. The World Cup bid was a joint bid (1985) by India and Pakistan. No one would have bet that India Pakistan could have worked together. But together they did. And successfully. This Indo-Pak relationship has now survived for more than 20 years.
India and Pakistan, went ahead and moved cricketing headquarters from UK to Dubai. Unlike Bro.Manmohan Singh at the high table, BCCI and Pakistan just took away the veto powers of UK and Australia over cricketing matters. In spite of best efforts of 'divide-and-rule' by the ECB (UK's cricketing authority) and Cricket Australia. UK, in a case of sour grapes, went ahead and stopped its players from participating in the Indian Premier League. Australia broke ranks, and participated. South Africa started with its first official post-apartheid series in India - the post-apartheid 'coming out' party.
In the UK and Australia, this loss of power rankles.
Use The Experts
This India Pakistan Cricketing relationship is very healthy - and has been managed by four people. Of course, there has been no case study, or a book or even a news report on this partnership.
The four people in this complex relationship have been Jagmohan Dalmiya and Shahriyar Khan at the administration level. Between these two, they have managed a consensus between the Asian cricketing countries. Jagmohan Dalmiya has a business background - and a career in cricket administration. Shahriyar Khan is a career diplomat and also a cricket administrator.
The other two are Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan - two well known and respected players in each of the countries. Between, these four, they have managed this complex cricketing relationship. Some of it is visible - but mostly, below the line. Especially, significant is the management of agreements. Recently, Asif Ali Zardari dismissed written agreements with his coalition partners, PML (N) headed by Nawaz Sharf, claiming agreements were not”holy like the holy Koran.”
Now, if these four can overcome the complex political situation and the minefield of history, is there a learning for others? Especially, for those who manage the India-Pakistan political relationship.
Hidden in this cricketing relationship, is the solution to the sub-continental peace.
This lesson seems to be dawning. Seven months after this post, a leading Indian newspaper carried an article on how Asian cricket needs to continue on the India Pakistan axis, which has been so successful in the last two decades. It points out how when cricket Indian administrators like
"I S Bindra ... suggested that India is capable of hosting the 2011 World Cup on its own ... (they) have sacrificed the much-used paradigm of subcontinental unity, which has seen India and its neighbours dominate international cricket politics for almost a decade." It furthers links how " it is inevitable that the West, rocked by the Stanford disaster recently, will try and regain composure and mount a counter-attack. Statements like English players may not be released for the IPL by the English Cricket Board and Tim May's urging that a thorough security assessment is necessary to convince international cricketers to consider playing in IPL are evidence that such an offensive has already begun."(ellipsis and bold text mine).
It is time that the Indian Foreign Service establishment took this learning - and start running.
Come June 2009, Shahriyar Khan (mentioned and pictured above) alongwith Shashi Tharoor came out with a book on Sub-continental cricket. Indian media, since it was not led by the nose, have this book cursory coverage.
Shashi Tharoor and Shahryar Khan in Shadows Across the Playing Field tries to provide answers by analysing 60 years of this intense cricketing rivalry, one, which has, on occasions superseded the intensity of the Ashes. (via something to hope for, and look forward to).