KARACHI: In Pakistan, cricket is not only a sport but a passion. Millions of youngsters dream of becoming world-class professional cricketers to enjoy luxurious lives, stardom, and a lasting name in the game. However, not all strike gold.
A very small fraction of those young aspirants get lucky to live their dreams, but others are deterred by relentless poverty. Meanwhile, the “Parchi System” [Nepotisim] dashes the aspirations of many.
However, the start of the professional tape-ball cricket era over the last few years became a ray of hope for dozens of budding cricketers, who were left out of mainstream cricket for one reason or another.
The money-swinger tape-ball cricket involves, inspires, and attracts thousands of Pakistani youngsters who now aim to pursue this extra-fast format of the game professionally.
Tape-ball cricketers like Taimur Mirza, Khurram Chakwal, Zaheer Kalia and many others inspire the young generation and their fan following is no less than Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, and other national team players.
If you doubt it, then go watch their match, and you’ll find the venue thronged by their crazy fans for selfies and autographs.
But the main point is about the main characters behind these famed tape-ball cricket names. Yes, the broadcasters/commentators who helped take tape-ball cricketers to households.
The local boys, coming from humble backgrounds, keep promoting and backing tape-ball stars on their social media pages with a huge following. Five years back, no one would have thought tape-ball cricket will come this far. Because people used to play it as a pastime.
But some local boys, with their sensational style of commentary, not only lifted the tape-ball cricket but also breathed a new lasting life into it.
Dawood Bhouch, a young commentator from Punjab’s small village named ‘Bhouch’, told GeoSuper.tv that he played an important role in the rebirth of tape-ball cricket in Pakistan.
“We promoted tape-ball cricketers by announcing their names and posting about them on social media,” said Dawood, who is highly inspired by the commentary style of Hindi commentators Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akash Chopra.
“We not only promoted players but also attracted sponsors towards this game through social media promotions. We introduced the cricket language to this format, and we told people about cricket attire and asked them to wear it. We have come so far with all the hard work. Today, tape-ball cricket events even contain prize money of Rs10 million. After all this, we deserve maybe an ounce of credit,” the young commentator said.
Daniyal Mehmood, a commentator from Karachi, shared his effort behind reshaping tape-ball cricket and said: “Broadcasters like me and many others played an important role in shaping the identity of tape-ball cricket.”
“Without us, nobody would have known about Taimur Mirza, Asad Shah, and Dawood Pathan,” he said.
Commentators like Dawood and Daniyal fire up the crowd through their feisty commentary that is punctuated with couplets, proverbs, and local colloquialism.
“The crowd’s love draws us towards the ground. Their passionate response gives us the confidence to buck up the players to hit more fours and sixes. That is the reward for us,” Dawood shared.
Meanwhile, Daniyal had a different experience interacting with the crowd. “It’s very painful when people abuse us, post bad comments. Sometimes, they also call us out for our language and words. But we try to enjoy those comments,” Daniyal said.
As compared to mainstream commentators like Ramiz Raja and Wasim Akram, tape-ball commentators often lament the lack of financial support.
“Except for one or two commentators, no one earns good here. We spend hours and hours on the ground whether it’s cold or hot, but in return, we mostly get peanuts,” Daniyal said.
“Outside Gujrat, I charge Rs10,000 apart from travel expenses. For big events, like those in Karachi, I have to spend up to Rs250,000 on top of travel expenses,” Dawood shared.
Tape-ball commentators, just like tape-ball cricketers, also strive to get high-class life just like professional cricketers and commentators. With tape-ball cricket flourishing, the commentators alongside other stakeholders are upbeat about a future that looks far brighter than the present.