Monday, July 27, 2015

Dr Nauman, after last night’s show, I must say, “Game on hai”

It is an odd feeling to watch a show on television discussing you for a couple of hours. For most parts, it was hilarious. Unfortunately, I missed yesterday’s pre-game episode of Game On Hai on PTV Sports.

I was informed by friends that the Express Tribune blog I wrote was being discussed on the show, and rather than discussing cricket, Dr Nauman Niaz took most of the time on the show justifying his actions. I had to make sure I did not miss the post-game Game On Hai.

Dr Nauman has a right to his opinion, as much as anyone else. However, if my ethics or character is being called into question, I do have every right to respond. Dr Nauman’s immediate reaction to the blog was to block me and delete any tweets he had made about the blog. Tweets in which he called my blog ‘motivated’, to be precise.

Photo: Shehzad Ghias

Photo: Shehzad Ghias

The blog was written independently of any media outlet, I chose to send it to Express Tribune of my own prerogative. The blog was not meant to question the credentials or cricketing knowledge of any individual, nor was it to suggest that other local television channels are any better at producing cricketing shows. Dr Nauman was not being judged of standards set by Pakistani anchors, but rather against an absolute standard of etiquette and decency based on my social experiences.

I have no cricketing expertise compared to the legends of the show. I wrote in as a casual viewer of the show who hoped his constructive criticism would be used to better represent Pakistan in the international arena. PTV Sports is produced from our tax money and it represents all of us. We all have a stake in improving it; I simply chimed in with my opinion on how to do so.

Watching last night’s episode on Game On Hai, I was convinced Dr Nauman had turned over a new leaf. The entire panel and his magnanimity and good humour towards the criticism were heart-warming. As a comedian, I could only stand up and applaud their response. All I could muster as a response was, “well played Sir, well played”.

Saqlain MushtaqJaved Miandad and Sanath Jayasuriya, your magnanimity has humbled me and I will forever be a better person because of that, so thank you.

The show started with Jayasuriya looking particularly dapper in a suit.

“People at the hotel asked me if I was going to a wedding,”proclaimed Jayasuriya buoyantly.

Miandad looked absolutely adorable in a suit whereas Mushtaq chose to wear a sleek blazer. Dr Nauman’s comment on how everyone should be happy now that they are wearing formal clothes was the icing on the cake.

Being a good sport, I take getting the mickey taken out of me on live television in my stride but Miandad’s comment about how insisting on wearing a suit suggests a colonised mind resonated with me. I sincerely apologise if I was misunderstood, or if I hurt your sentiments, Sir Javed Miandad. You are a legend of the game, you are loved by the entire nation and you will always be. I never suggested everyone should wear suits rather I suggested everyone should look presentable because everyone is representing Pakistan. The idea to wear shalwar Kkameez is splendid.

Dr Nauman is also needlessly suggesting that I criticised Miandad’s accent or his English grammar. Speaking English is not a skill in itself and 99.9 per cent of the people in Pakistan who can speak English do not possess an iota of the cricket talent you had, so they do not even compare to you. You are more than welcome to talk in Urdu. It is the job of the host to ensure what you are commenting on is also communicated to people invited as guests who may not understand the language.

Unfortunately, Dr Nauman was apt at ridiculing the suggestions; he spent a long while publicly justifying himself, but he failed to take any of the suggestions constructively. While Miandad was commenting on the match, he intervened and started speaking over to him to bring the discussion back to the blog, or rather himself.

In the middle of a cricketing discussion, he asked Mushtaq the difference between arrogance and congeniality, coaxing Mushtaq to defend him against claims of him being arrogant. Dr Nauman, you may be the best of friends with Mushtaq and you two are free to continue to be so, but when you are on national television with an international guest, that is not the time to discuss your personal stories.

I am personally more interested in learning from your invaluable cricketing knowledge. I believe your time is better utilised analysing the game rather than having a bonding session at our expense.

And it is not just me who feels this way. After the blog came out, a lot of your own staff reached out to me about how they feel the same. They have asked to remain anonymous so I cannot reveal their names but they also informed of the incidents with Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs so you can rest assured I am not the only person offended.

“I don’t know the blogger, the only distinction he has that he follows Najam Sehti and Najam Sehti follows him back, that is the only distinction he has.” – Dr Nauman

The only silver lining for me in that statement was the knowledge that Najam Sehti follows me. After letting out a ‘yippy’ from joy, I went to my Twitter followers list only for my heart to be broken.

I must hand it to you, your comment about nobody being offered tea in the show today was hilarious. As was Miandad’s observation that,

“Log dunya mai banyaan mai bhi show kartay hay.”

(People host shows in their vests also)

I am not sure if this was staged or improvised, but my favourite line of the show was,

“Sanath, we were talking in English today so you can’t use your cellphone” – Dr Nauman

It was also appreciable to see Dr Nauman make an effort to say Kusal Perera right and Jayasuriya quipping in with a,

“You pronounced Kusal Perera really well.”

Overall, we saw a much improved product last night. The time that was not devoted to discussing the blog was spent on some top notch analysis. The cricketing abilities and knowledge of anyone was never questioned so Dr Nauman’s comments about the blogger knowing more than Miandad, or that his need to throw his credentials in our faces a few times was totally unnecessary.

Last night’s show showed that with some right direction, this could be up there with the best cricketing shows around the world, and we all have a stake in bringing it up there, which is why I was so happy to see a more professionally run show yesterday. Unfortunately, Dr Nauman ended the show at a sour note.

“I have been doing journalism for 20 years, I know these kinds of bloggers, I know who is motivating them, who are paying them, what their angles are. These youthful boys need to understand going to LUMS is nothing. LUMS janay say kuch hota hay toh humay bhi Western Australia janay say kuch agaya hoga. (If you’ve learnt a lot by attending LUMS, so have I by going to Western Australia)” – Dr Nauman

The easiest way to disregard any opinion in Pakistan is to question the credibility of the writer. Dr Nauman, I am a nobody; I have no distinctions but I also have no angles and nobody is paying me to write. I do not assume to know about everything. I agree that I might be wrong a million times. Ignore who is saying these things but focus on what is being said.

The amount of traction the article generated suggests that many people feel the same way.

I am ready to call a truce because for me it was never a fight. I have nothing against you. I have the utmost respect for Sanath Jayasuriya, Javed Miandad and Saqlain Mushtaq. And I have unwavering love for Pakistan. As the great Miandad said at the end, we should all come together for Pakistan.

If you feel anything I say is better for Pakistan, implement it. If you feel it is not, do your best to represent our country as the best version of yourself. I am sure that will be good enough for most of us.

I will end this by quoting you, after watching last night’s show I agree with you,

“Game off nahi hai, Game on hai.”

(The game is still on)

from The Express Tribune Blog

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