Life on tour in Pakistan

But Multan was the hardest week any England player or fan has experienced. Previous generations had it tougher with fewer comforts but did not experience the same security levels.

Illness was rampant in the team and among supporters. Westerners could not leave barricaded hotels with razor wire without an armed guard, even to walk to a restaurant next door. Security men would refuse to unbolt the gates if you were unaccompanied. Multan could not really cope with the fan flux or the traffic chaos caused by road closures for the team convoys.

The players enjoyed a day at the Rumanza championship golf course and some tour groups made the most of pre tour bookings at restaurants, but nobody had been made aware of the security restrictions before arrival and that grated with some.

At least by ending in four days it allowed time for a city tour: magnificent Sufi shrines, the chaotic fun of the local bazaar and a trip to see the crumbling old ground in the city center that hosted one Test in 1980 (famous for Sylvester Clarke clobbering a fan with a brick). Inevitably it was filled with young kids belting a tennis ball with a plank of wood.

Karachi was like visiting another country. The Movenpick hotel bar, legal in high end hotels, ran out of Heineken within 30 minutes of thirsty England fans arriving – despite them costing £15 a can. They didn’t make that mistake again.

From the shopping malls, high-end restaurants and sense of freedom, to the hospitality of locals who welcomed us into their homes, keen to talk cricket but also to show off a different side to their country and break down myths about Pakistan, it felt like a city you want to explore again.

Thanks to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, double Oscar-winning director, who opened her home to the traveling media and let hacks get their hands on her Academy Awards (surprisingly heavy).

The third Test ended with a presentation from the Sports Journalists Association of Sindh with Ajraks (shawls) and Topi hats to the traveling press, as well as a tour of the historic Karachi Press Club where there was a political demonstration outside but hardly anyone bothered to notice, too busy talking about cricket.


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