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In an exclusive interview with Pakpassion.Net, Chacha Cricket talks about how his love for the game began, the secret behind his enthusiasm, the help he has received in order to make this possible, and his favourite venues around the world.

 

 

By Pakpassion staff (20th November 2012)

 

Chaudhry Abdul Jalil aka "Chacha Cricket" is one of the most recognisable faces in the cricket world. He is seen at almost every cricket match played by Pakistan, no matter where in the world, and has become famous for his flowing green shalwar kameez and the energetic waving of a giant Pakistan flag.

In an exclusive interview with Pakpassion.Net, Chacha Cricket talks about how his love for the game began, the secret behind his enthusiasm, the help he has received in order to make this possible, and his favourite venues around the world.

 

PakPassion.net: Tell us a little about yourself, when you got interested in cricket and when you came to know that everyone calls you as “Chacha Cricket” ?

Chacha Cricket: Thank you, I belong to Sialkot - the City of the national poet of Pakistan, Allama Iqbal – where sports equipment and surgical equipment is manufactured and exported all around the world. In my family, my elder brother played for the Pakistan National Kabbadi team, his name was Late Ch. Rafeeq Ahmad. I have also played cricket, I founded a club in Sialkot “Chaudry Cricket Club” back in 1968 and till 1973 I played club cricket. We even have our own family ground, and back in 1969 I constructed the first ever cement cricket pitch in Pakistan. I have played cricket myself and I understand cricket and what I do is only for Pakistan.


PakPassion.net: Whenever you are seen on television screens all around the world you appear to be filled with a lot of enthusiasm and full of energy. What is the secret behind this?

Chacha Cricket: As I have said before, whatever I do, I do it for the people of my country, and to make other people happy as well – regardless of where they come from. Behind all this is my love for my nation. I am considered as the number 1 cheerleader for Pakistan all around the world that is why I really work hard to keep my enthusiasm and in every match I come with new ideas and new slogans.

Today I am quite far from my home city Sialkot, I am in Bakhar right now and yesterday I was in Laiya. I went there to meet two of my young handicapped fans. One of them is called Fazal Abbas. Tomorrow there will be a cricket match in my honour here and also a wrestling match is organized. They greeted me wonderfully here, locals here in Bakhar greeted me with so many flowers that I started to remember my wedding day. So this is my style to make everyone happy, everyone loves me and God is my witness that I truly love Pakistan. My love for Pakistan is greater than the love of “Heer” and “Ranjah”! In short, I have a mission in which, by the grace of ALLAH (SWT), I have been successful. This mission has 3 objectives - One is to become a good Pakistani and make Pakistan proud. Second, to give people happiness in my own style and the third is to help poor and helpless people. 


PakPassion.net: Tell us a little about your family, about your kids, do you have grandchildren?

Chacha Cricket: This is a very good question. I have been married for 37 years and have three sons and two daughters. Both daughters are married and one of my sons is also married. I am blessed with grandchildren from both my son and daughters. One of my sons, Hafiz Waseem used to play club cricket with Shoaib Malik, he was also a very good player but he got injured in a motorbike accident and was not able to play cricket at a high level but he still plays a little bit. He is also like me, of very cheerful nature and currently he is in Malaysia since the last 2 years. I am a very blessed person when it comes to family life - my house is filled with love and harmony which is something I wish for every home in Pakistan. There are always a lot of guests visiting my house from all over the world and I feel very happy about this. I have seen both good and bad times. I live in a rented house but I have a lot of respect, thanks to the Almighty and all this respect is because of the green “Gumbad-e-Khizra” of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and the green of the Pakistani flag I wear, otherwise there is no difference between me and any other common man. The only difference is that I am able to represent my country in this way.


PakPassion.net: You are obviously interested in cricket, but do your children and your grandchildren also have an interest in cricket? 

Chacha Cricket: Yes, we had many hopes for my son, but his foot got injured. I also have a nephew Tayyab Ali. He’s studying in 10th grade is a very good cricketer. I always encourage my children and nephews to play but not neglect studies. In any case, there is peace in my household and the whole family lives together with love and respect.

One thing I want to tell you – It’s not necessary that every boy is going to play in the Pakistan team. For example, Miandad’s brother could not play for Pakistan, Zaheer Abbas’s brother could not play for Pakistan and Tauqir Zia’s son wasn’t that successful. So things are like this, but anyway I have given freedom to my children to play cricket if they so wish. 


PakPassion.net: You travel a lot, go places and are seen in nearly every Pakistan match. So, who helps you with this? In getting visas and all this travelling, is it the PCB or someone else? 

Chacha Cricket: You have asked a very good question – Allah helps every one. However, I’m fortunate that I’m the only national hero that the PCB is giving an honorary award of 20,000 rupees. This is still very little and I have given my application. At this time our chairman is very good and I know his family and him personally. So, I have some hope that I’ll get more help. Some people don’t like to see me wave the flag and they are trying to block my way, but they haven’t been able to block my way and neither will these big people, with small hearts be able to ever obstruct my way. I’m disappointed, when those people who are earning millions through Pakistan cricket, try to hinder Chacha Cricket’s way. All this simply makes me more determined to succeed and wave the flag of my country with even more pride. 


PakPassion.net: How do you decide which match to go to? Do you look at what matches are coming up?

Chacha Cricket: Nowadays all the matches are scheduled on the Internet - where is it going to happen and at what date. So, before every tournament, I send an application to the PCB to sponsor me and in fact PCB has sponsored me eight times in the last fifteen years. However, since the last two years PCB has not sponsored me, although they do give me financial help. In the 2011 World Cup, Coca Cola had sponsored me and for the T20, the Dubai based Grand Mid-West Hotel’s Syad Zafar Shah had sponsored me. Among my other sponsors are Jazz who helped me in the T20 World Cup however, I also have friends who have come to my assistance and are in a way, part of my mission. Its Allah’s blessing and you must have seen as well, during the T20 World Cup that has taken place. People are very happy about me regarding that tournament and say “Chacha ji,” the media really liked your style of entertainment, it was different and well received.

Also, I spent a lot of time with fans from England who came to the T20 World Cup. Amongst these were Mr. Pakistan and Mr. Superman - I would like to thank them as well as they helped me a lot in Sri Lanka. They provided me with the match tickets and my boarding and lodging was also with them. Allah makes ways for all of this to happen.

I also want to tell you that I am writing a book and I will try my level best to have it available by 23rd March. The book will be called "Victory of the Flag: Parcham ki Jeet". That will be my gift for the people of Pakistan. It will describe the unique and interesting life that I have lived. It will contain only the truth - those who have done good will be included in this book and I will also highlight those who have been unjust because I only fear Allah. Those who fear Allah fear no one else.


PakPassion.net:: You have gone to so many grounds. What is your favourite ground in Pakistan and also outside of Pakistan? In particular, which is your favourite ground in India?

Chacha Cricket: All the grounds I have seen in the world are nice. Home grounds offer a lot more in terms of culture. For example, if you watch a match in Karachi, the crowd there will be educated and a lot more families are visible at the ground. If you're in Lahore, it will have its own unique style with dhol dhamaka. If you go to Faisalabad, you will see people filled with humour and joking around. 

I enjoy being in England and performing whenever there is an India-Pakistan match with an evenly matched crowd. I have seen many matches in India. I have made four visits to India where I have seen Pakistan be victorious many times and also be on the losing side. Recently, in the 2011 World Cup Semi-Final, I went to Mohali and witnessed a very interesting match in which the match tickets were sold for up to Two Lakh Rupees! It's a shame we lost the match and our team wasn't able to chase 260-odd runs. I have also seen the match in India in which Afridi made a century in 45-balls in Kanpur in 2005. 

In 2005, it was the last ODI at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi and in that our former President Musharraf was also there - in that match I had the honour to be the only person allowed in the ground to have a flag on a stick. The rest of the crowd was not allowed to bring in a pipe or a stick inside the ground. It was my wish to watch a match in Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla and to be able to wave the Pakistani flag inside the ground. It was only Chacha Cricket who was able to wave the flag inside the ground that day. The permission was granted to me by Delhi's High Commissioner Police because Chacha Cricket is the number one cheerleader and so he should be allowed to take the stick inside the ground. As everyone saw that day, Chacha Cricket was the only one that had a flag on a stick. Whenever Afridi would hit a six that day, you would see me raise and wave the Pakistani flag in the skies of Delhi.


PakPassion.net: You mentioned a couple of different matches including the Mohali match. Other than these, tell us about a match in which you as part of the crowd lost hope and all of a sudden Pakistan came back in to the match and ended up winning it?

Chacha Cricket: In 1986, probably one of the best matches in the history of cricket was in which Javed Miandad hit a six off of Chetan Sharma's last ball. I was present in the ground at that time. The whole day we were under pressure and off the last ball we needed four to win. We were all just praying to Allah. That was one match which I am proud to have been in the stadium in Sharjah. Other than this, I also have the honour of being the only cricket fan to have been in the ground to witness all four of Wasim Akram's hattricks - two in tests and two in ODIs. Wasim Akram's ODI hattricks were against West Indies and Australia in Sharjah and two test hattricks were against Sri Lanka in Lahore and Colombo. I was present in all of these matches by the grace of Allah.


PakPassion.net: Are you ever emotional about Pakistan losses? Do you get angry? 

Chacha Cricket: No, I have played cricket and understand cricket. My wish is always for the Pakistan team to win every match, but that cannot always happen. Winning and losing is part of the game. Sometimes Pakistan play terribly when under pressure and the batting collapses and I get angry, and so I should! However, when cricket is played, you go through the full range of emotions – you support the team, you pray for them but you also occasionally feel anger. When the team loses, I always eat one extra chapati, so I don't fall ill!


PakPassion.net: The trio being found guilty of spot-fixing was a difficult time for Pakistan fans. How did it affect you?

Chacha Cricket: Pakistani cricket players receive not hundreds of thousands, but tens of millions of rupees for representing Pakistan. While they receive these tens of millions, then they should also think of their compatriots - some of their countrymen are surviving on ten thousand rupees, some fifteen and some twenty thousand. If this is the situation, and they are earning tens of millions of rupees, they should consider the honour of the country and they shouldn't do anything that could cause embarrassment to the country. The Amir, Asif and Butt scandal has caused a lot of embarrassment to the country although after that the players are much better behaved - I pray that scandal is the final scandal. The players should always think about the country’s honour. 


PakPassion.net: You spend a lot of time following cricket. How have your interactions with the players been over the years?

Chacha Cricket: It's a very good question. I have my duties as a fan and the managers, coaches, players, commentators, umpires, they all respect me. The opposition players, coaches, commentators and players also ask to take photos with me. I always greet Pakistani players and they always talk to me. I pray for them and for the betterment of Pakistani cricket and the players say the same thing to me – they always ask for prayers from nation. I'm very happy players all over the world, including players like Brian Lara respect “Chacha”. Even Ricky Ponting once said about me that “uncle is very great” - in 2011 I gave him a Pakistani-flag key ring as a token of my appreciation! 


PakPassion.net: Who are your favourite players?

Chacha Cricket: If I was to name one player it would have to be Imran Khan, who brought us the World Cup, who set-up a hospital for the poor in Pakistan, made universities. I respect all players, but especially Imran – he cares for the Pakistani people.