India-Pakistan rivalry is 'more fun to watch' than the Ashes, asserts Wasim Akram
What's the story?
Legendary Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram has placed the fierceness embedded in the rivalry between India and Pakistan above the traditional allure of the Ashes. Pointing to the fact that the viewership for an India-Pakistan contest completely dwarfs the numbers accomplished by the iconic showdown between Australia and England, the 51-year old also took a subtle dig at ICC's inability to persuade BCCI to change its stand on the resumption of bilateral ties between the two Asian giants.
"A Pakistan-India match is more fun to watch than the Ashes. (Only) twenty million people watch the Ashes while a Pakistan-India match is watched by a billion people. Imagine the pressure of such games. I have grown as a player due to these matches", Akram was quoted as saying to a leading Pakistani channel.
The iconic pacer also lamented, "It is sad for the people of the younger generation that India and Pakistan are not playing as that game has its own charm. I don’t think ICC has the power to pursue BCCI but again I have always said people-to-people contact is necessary. Politics needs to be kept separate from sport."
In the past...
From 60 matches across both Tests and ODIs against India, Akram has taken 105 wickets at an average of 26.74 and remains one of the most successful bowlers in the history of the rivalry.
The heart of the matter
The 2017 Champions Trophy group game between India and Pakistan at Edgbaston garnered an astronomical viewership of 324 million as passionate cricket fans across the globe tuned in for the first ODI between the two Asian powerhouses since the 2015 World Cup. The title clash at The Oval, also between the two teams, generated tremendous hype and attracted millions of viewers from the cricket-crazy subcontinental nations.
With the prevailing political and diplomatic tension in the region preventing India and Pakistan from meeting each other in bilateral series, ardent fans have no choice but to wait patiently for multi-team tournaments in order to witness the epic rivalry in motion. It has been more than ten years since India and Pakistan last played a Test match against each other.
While there are no India-Pakistan contests in the offing for the next few months, the Ashes is set to take center stage. The series opener between Australia and England will begin at the fabled Gabba on November 23.
Considering that the 2017/18 Ashes looms in the horizon, Akram's views echo the feeling of palpable disappointment prevalent in the minds of countless Indian and Pakistani cricket fans. If only the BCCI as well as the Indian government change their inexplicable stance, the Asian populace could have their own version of the Ashes in the form of riveting bilateral cricket.