In search of greener pastures
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There is a common thread connecting this trio, apart from their place of origin and choice of sport that is. Disillusioned in their backyard, all three had been pushed into their search for greener pastures elsewhere.
Fawad Ahmed had left Pakistan for Australia seeking asylum after being threatened by extremists. Imran Tahir, on the other hand, had followed his heart literally and settled down in South Africa to be with his Indian-origin wife. And it was Sikandar Raza's inability to fulfil his original ambition in Pakistan-becoming an Air Force pilot-that resulted in him shifting base to Zimbabwe.
While Ahmed stands a very good chance of donning the Baggy Green sometime later this year, his fellow Pakistani expatriates have already donned new national identities on the international stage, with Raza making his ODI debut against Bangladesh last week. If recognition had eluded them in Pakistan, acceptance in their adopted homes hadn't come on a platter either.
They might have a long way to go in catching up with the South Africans when it comes to exporting cricket talent. But with their cricket in a perennial state of flux, the likes of Ahmed, Tahir and Raza might just be setting off a new positive trend for Pakistan.
Opportunities for exposure are limited back home. Pakistani cricketers also end up getting a raw deal in other parts of the world. While the IPL shut the door on them five years ago, their board has also rendered the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) a no-go zone. The stiff upper-lipped bosses of county cricket, which has helped groom a number of Pakistani cricketers over the years, too are considering drastic changes following the Danish Kaneria match-fixing episode.
And it's only fair that these expats are welcoming the appreciation of their skills in distant lands. For, foreign citizenship not only grants opportunities at international level, it also opens doors for other affluent options like the IPL. Ask Azhar Mahmood.