Title

Is cricket the magic glue that unites South Asia?

Document Type

Article

Department

Neurology

Abstract

In South Asia, cricket has come to bear the promise of delivering lasting peace to a region tormented by a half century of strife. It may seem flippant to suggest that a sport will accomplish this when almost all else has failed, but consider the following. Mounting enmity between India and Pakistan is threatening to devour the entire region. Decades of failed diplomacy testify to the futility of conventional peace moves, and intransigent foreign policy positions bring the two neighbours ever closer to a nuclear flashpoint. India and Pakistan may speak the same language, but their deadlock cries out for a new medium of communication.

Like marmalade, tweed jackets, and other things English, cricket is an acquired taste, which makes it slow to pick up but impossible to let go of. Introduced to the subcontinent in the 1800s, by the 1920s it was commanding great popularity in colonial India. In 1932 India became a Test playing country and, five years after the partition of 1947, Pakistan followed suit. In a cheerless, gloomy existence towards the bottom end of health and economic indices, the two nations found joy in cricket. It is easy to see why. Cricket provided a global forum for Pakistan and India to demonstrate talent and spirit, and defeat more advanced nations, such as England and Australia. Naturally enough, it cast a spell on the masses, became the embodiment of national self esteem, and turned cricket players into icons and celebrities.

Publication

BMJ Open