Georgie Parker: Am I un-Australian for wanting to see Aussie team lose?

Georgie Parker
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Debutant quick Aamir Jamal has been Pakistan's player of the series against Australia.
Debutant quick Aamir Jamal has been Pakistan's player of the series against Australia. Credit: AAP

I’m about to be very honest here, and given I wore the coat of arms on my chest for over 100 games for the Hockeyroos, it feels very strange to say this.

But was I the only one secretly wanting Pakistan to win the Sydney Test?

Am I - gulp - un-Australian for kinda wanting Australia to lose?

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Australia swept the series, but as cliche as this is, Pakistan won my heart. I felt like Ralph Wiggum falling in love with Lisa Simpson - they could literally do no wrong. I have never felt that when watching us go up against any other nation.

Aamir Jamal of Pakistan celebrates the wicket of Travis Head of Australia on Jane McGrath Day during day three of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2024.
Aamir Jamal of Pakistan celebrates the wicket of Travis Head of Australia on Jane McGrath Day during day three of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2024. Credit: Mark Evans/Getty Images

India is in control of the entire world when it comes to cricket, so we can’t like them too much. England... well, they’re England, and the “anyone but England” mentality seems to be fairly universal.

New Zealand is our cross-Tasman rivals, South Africa has a complex history, and not since Brian Lara have we had the same adoration towards the West Indies.

Pakistan, though? They’re not a threat to us. This doesn’t mean they didn’t challenge us at times this series, nor does it mean they weren’t ruthless in their approach. They wanted nothing more than to spoil the party and not let David Warner hit the winning runs at the SCG even when the Test was all but done. But it means they’re an unassuming cricketing nation, and certainly not one of the ‘big three’.

Maybe that lack of threat has clouded my ‘win everything’ mentality I recklessly put in to the world and my day-to-day life, and opened up a part of my heart I didn’t know existed.

Pakistan seems to embody the spirit of cricket we so often talk about, maybe more than any other country that plays.

I strangely felt sadness when debutant Saim Ayub got a duck in his first innings, then again when he gave Dave Warner a lifeline dropping a regulation catch at first slip. I held my breath when he fell and dug his knee in to the turf and watched closely to make sure he was OK.

Aamir Jamal of Pakistan celebrates the wicket of Travis Head of Australia on Jane McGrath Day during day three of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2024.
Aamir Jamal of Pakistan celebrates the wicket of Travis Head of Australia on Jane McGrath Day during day three of the Men's Third Test Match in the series between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 05, 2024. Credit: Mark Evans/ Mark Evans

Pure joy was what I felt when Aamir Jamal, in just his third Test, deservedly snared Player of the Match honours. It was him, after all, who kept the match alive after we all thought it was over early, hitting 82 batting at No.9 and then taking six wickets with the ball.

“There was no personal milestone for me, because my milestone was just to represent my country and that I achieved. I was trying to get as many runs as I could, ” he said after his innings. Be still, my beating heart!

We have in the commentary box the swag of Wasim Akram, sitting there with his aviators on and his love and passion for the game obvious. The generosity of the playing group and their families on Christmas Day and the kind gesture and words of respect to Warner were genuine.

The first thing captain Shan Masood said after the loss in Melbourne was a thank-you to the ground staff for creating a pitch that was so wonderful to play on, even though they had just lost a match that was well within their reach.

They handled themselves with such class this entire summer, even though they didn’t win a match, which can make for a long tour.

Let’s head six months back and compare this to The Ashes, particularly the ugly scenes in the Long Room at Lords, and the pathetic lack of changeroom drinks by England in the wake of the Jonny Bairstow stumping ill-feeling.

This was England seeming to forget we can be mates off the field, while being sheer enemies on it.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were once bitter rivals.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were once bitter rivals. Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup

Look at Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: One of the fiercest on-court rivalries in sport, yet once the match is done and dusted, that rivalry is parked because no player nor team is above the game itself.

There were moments of tension on the field this series between Australia and Pakistan, but the series itself was played in such good spirits which made me proud to be a cricket fan.

Pakistan’s gratitude of playing was infectious, their kindness was enormous, their passion and love of the game was genuine, and the pride they have in representing their country is one I don’t even think I reached myself.

So while we are all talking about the future of Test cricket, and how money is the only thing that will keep nations playing, let’s remember this tour and the love the Pakistan national team have for this format.

It’s known as the “gentleman’s game”, and Pakistan has been exactly that. Polite, respectful, but have played hard and fair.

They just need to find a new fielding coach and maybe they can snag a win. Catches win matches, after all.

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