Cricket: “Pakistan is safe for international cricket” — Alvin Kallicharran
On his third visit to Pakistan, former West Indian cricketer and left-handed batsman Alvin Kallicharran wowed to come here every year. “Why not? I feel safe in Pakistan,” said Kallicharran when he was in Karachi last week while managing the International World XI team. The team had flown in to play two festival matches in Karachi to raise money for flood relief in Balochistan as well as to disperse the impression of security problems during sports events in Pakistan.
The 63-year-old batting legend said that he had first toured Pakistan in 1972. “And my last trip here was in 1981, when I was a part of the West Indian team captained by Clive Lloyd. But I will now try to come here once every year,” he promised.
“I am well aware that cricket is still flourishing in Pakistan since you still stage your home series in other cricket centres such as the UAE grounds when other country teams are reluctant to come here. But what about the people of Pakistan?” he questions, “Not everyone can fly off to the UAE to watch those matches. The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009 was very unfortunate. The cricket lovers in Pakistan have been the innocent victims of that incident. We are here for them. We are here for stadium crowd made up by the common man of this country,” he said while gesturing towards the jam-packed National Stadium, Karachi, stands from the huge picture window of the stadium’s media centre.
“It is amazing,” commented Kallicharran, “And what a great crowd this is. Pakistan is perfectly safe for international cricket, and I’m glad to have been a part of the team that will revive international activity here,” he said.
“Apart from the young volunteers here, I see so many children wearing the green Pakistan shirts waving away the Pakistani flag with their faces painted green and white. They need to see their team in action up close,” he observed. “What they also need are role models to derive inspiration from. Who knows, any of the kids in the spectators may become a big name in the world of cricket of tomorrow. And we’d have played a big part in their lives then. Growing up in my country, I used to go to watch cricket matches at the ground too. There was Wesley Hall, Sir Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kanai who became my role models just like Shahid Afridi and Sanath Jayasuriya are role models for today’s youngsters. We owe it to them to give them this healthy entertainment,” he said.
“As for the older lot, well they can also have role models. Like my parents named my younger brother Wallis Matthias, after a player who had visited the West Indies as a part of the Pakistan squad in 1958. Two of my nephews, too, are namesakes of your Imran Khan and Javed Miandad,” he said with a smile.
“Earlier, I was really surprised to see so many people gathered to receive us at the Karachi airport, too. I could imagine the hunger for cricket here. I hope that we were able to send a positive message to the rest of the cricketing nations by our visit,” he continued.
While most of the International World XI team left for home soon after the playing of the second festival match last Sunday, Kallicharran stayed back for sightseeing, shopping and visits to some cricket academies for another couple of days.