Alumni Homecoming 2021: An Engaging Conversation with the Stars of Pakistani Cricket
One of the most popular sessions at Homecoming 2021 was a live discussion on cricket with world-famous stars of the game, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq. Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and a cricket enthusiast who has also written a book on the game, also participated in the session that was moderated by LUMS graduate, Hissan Ur Rehman (BSc 2008).
The session was an inspiring discussion on the importance of inculcating the sportsman spirit in youth and how imperative it is to believe in one's abilities and stay focused.
Dr. Khan started the session with a presentation on the history of Pakistan through the lens of cricket. He started by quoting CRL James, “'What do they know of cricket that only cricket know?’ The quote means that cricket is so much more than a sport; it is a reflection of our society.”
He further explained through his presentation how cricket came to our part of the region through colonialism, and how our society and the game evolved together. Cricket, initially England’s national summer game, gained immense popularity. The love for cricket is not only restricted to the professional field, rather people of all ages can be seen playing it in their streets and backyards.
Former leg spinner, Pakistan Cricket Team, Mushtaq Ahmed shared details of his cricketing career and how he was inspired by watching cricket players in his hometown, Sahiwal. He said that children have to be provided opportunities and places to play and stressed the importance of having playgrounds and encouraging sports. “This is the only way sports can become popular and produce world-class players.”
He also said that the practice of encouraging and mentoring players has stopped. Young players need role models and support and quoted his own example of his mentor, Shahid Saab, an established entrepreneur from Sahiwal, who gave him a monthly stipend so he did not have to stop playing to financially support his family. “People need to take ownership of the youth and support and mentor them. We have to revive our grounds and sports,” he stressed.
He also said that results are achieved by getting out of your comfort zones. “Leave your friends and attend that class or practice session, this will make you successful!” he advised the youth.
“Cricket is my family sport,” shared Saqlain Mushtaq, former off-spinner, Pakistan Cricket Team. With most of his family pursuing sports as a career, Mushtaq shared the virtues of sports, how it can build character and how one can turn it into a career. He shared that when he started watching sports and playing himself, he started imagining his success and aspired to become a star player. He realised that among so many excellent players, he needed to create a niche for himself to succeed. “I prayed, as my mother had advised, worked on my technique, and practiced the game to become a skilled player,” he said.
“Failure teaches you to succeed,” he added. He recalled a match he played in his neighbourhood, which he lost but it haunted him enough to keep improving himself. He also recalled a game between India and Pakistan, with Indian cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, which taught him to think maturely and strategise under pressure.
Dr. Khan concluded the session by sharing that he has learned that to be successful, cricketers have to be single-minded and persistent. “All famous players have this quality and so do Mushtaq and Ahmed,” he said.
He also shared an observation that cricket is more than a game. “It teaches you who you are, it teaches you about others and how to deal with success and failure. It also teaches teamwork, leadership and builds character.”