In every sport, rivalries play an extremely crucial part. Be it an individual sport such as tennis or a team sport such as cricket, it is the rivalry which makes the sport far more enthralling. While there has often been the Nadal – Federer rivalry in Tennis; the Barcelona – Real Madrid or the El Classico has grabbed eyeballs in football. But in cricket, there are two such rivalries, which entertain viewers like nothing else! Yes, it is the India- Pakistan cricket rivalry which tops it all. But close behind the Asian clash is the rivalry between the traditional foes – Australia and England – The Ashes.
The one question though, which lingers in the minds of every rational cricket fan is that which is the greatest rivalry of all time – Indo – Pak or the Ashes?
Before jumping on to a judgment regarding the outcome of which the greater rivalry is, it’s only fair to notice and observe the close similarities between them. First and foremost, the major similarity is that when these sides clash, the world watches! For an uncomplicated instance, just follow this case. For the 2013 India Pakistan clash in the Champions Trophy in Birmingham, the tickets were sold out within the span of minutes. And not to forget, it was an inconsequential game as Pakistan had already been knocked out. Another case following the two Asian neighbors is of their recent 2015 World Cup encounter in Adelaide. Once again, the game was sold out within minutes. Precisely, the 50,000 odd tickets were sold out in 40 minutes since the ticket window opened. That is approximately 1250 tickets per minute! Epic is probably the only word to describe this crazy rivalry!
The Ashes follow a similar case as well. When Australia and England battle it out, everything comes to a halt. Even Asians, who gain nothing more than entertainment from this rivalry bunk colleges in a bid to watch the Ashes. It would be no surprise if the TRP’s of the upcoming Ashes in India are more than the national side’s own tour of Zimbabwe which will be broadcasted. Such, is the enigma of the Ashes!
Another similarity between the two epic clashes is that even minute unwanted errors can have a major impact on the mindset of millions of individuals. Let’s decode this similarity with another example. During the first Test of the 2013 Ashes, Stuart Broad shamelessly stood his ground despite nicking one to the first slip. The repercussions of that act from Broad were so illuminating that the attitude of several Australians changed rapidly. The Australians literally wanted to make Broad cry, when he faced the Aussies in Australia. That wasn’t hatred, but sheer anger which emerged out from the sport. From the Asian front, the Kolkata Test of 1999, when Sachin Tendulkar was controversially run out, was a case of anger seething in. Effigies of the Pakistani players were burnt by Indian across the globe, as Sachin was run out in an unethical way by the visiting Pakistanis. A mini riot of sort occurred in Kolkata.
A third similarity is that sledging plays a vital role in these rivalries. In the Ashes, the Australians are usually the one’s to begin the verbal volleys. But the English don’t step back as well. They match fire with fire. The most famous sledge in recent times between the two sides was Michael Clarke’s one when he told James Anderson in a commanding manner, “Get ready for a fu**** broken arm.” In the Indo- Pak clashes, more than the sledges, it is downright abuse. How can one forget the confrontation between Shahid Afridi and Gautam Gambhir in Kanpur? A light hearted sledge between the Asian sides occurred when Javed Miandad told Dilip Doshi, “Tell me your room number mate! I will hit you for a six that finds its way to your room”!
The two rivalries have time and again provided us with matches that will be remembered for several generations. Every game of the 2005 Ashes was simply unforgettable. The 2 run victory for England in Birmingham would be etched in everyone’s memory for an eternity. Similarly, the 1999 India v Pakistan Test series too will never be forgotten. A billion Indian souls shed tears when Sachin Tendulkar’s heroics went in vain in Chennai. India’s 2004 tour of Pakistan was memorable as well, when India defeated Pakistan in Pakistan. That was something really special.
To pass a judgment, personally the India Pakistan rivalry is surely bigger than the Ashes. There are a few reasons to assume and assert so. Firstly, the political scenarios in both the nations are profusely hostile towards one another. Being neighbors, the two nations have indulged in 4 wars so far. The tensions between the two nations have been pretty high since the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. In such hostile circumstances, cricket becomes the only medium of providing some respite. Fans of both the nations become involved in scuffles across the social media to own the bragging rights.
However, no view can solely define the true effect of any rivalry. Both, the Ashes as well as the Indo-Pak rivalry are beyond words, and these clashes play a key part in making cricket a loved sport! Viewers hope to see more of these rivalries in the years to come. May there be peace among the nations and may cricket prosper!