The captain of the Pakistan national cricket team, Sarfaraz Ahmed said that he was proud to wear the national dress known as the shalwar kameez, while visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday 29th May 2019.
All the other nine captains were dressed in suits with shirt and tie. Sarfaraz however was dressed in a crisp white shalwar kameez with a smart dark green Pakistan team blazer.
He was initially criticised by a prominent Canadian journalist, Tarek Fatah, who himself is of Pakistani origin, of turning up ‘in his pyjamas’.
Fatah tweeted: “Captains of #Cricket playing nations competing 4 the #CricketWorldCup had a photoshoot with the Queen. Guess who came dressed in his pyjamas? None other than the #Pakistan captain (back row, left).”
He continued: “Every other captain, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, South Africa, NewZealand, West Indies & Zimbabwe is smartly turned out in jacket & tie, but no, not the Pakistani. No sir, not him. I’m surprised he didn’t come in his Lungi-Banyan-Topi costume.”
The Captain nevertheless calmly and politely defended his decision at an official press conference, the day after on Thursday 30th May. The fact that he was explaining his decision in Urdu was not lost on Pakistani fans and citizens.
Sarfaraz said: “You know well that what I wore yesterday was our national dress (shalwar kameez) and it felt nice to wear it.
“We had instructions from the PCB to follow that protocol, to wear our national dress.
“So I was just trying to promote our culture. As a captain, I felt very proud that while all other captain’s were dressed in suits, I was clad in our national dress, the shalwar kameez.”
This has been the hot topic of discussion in the cricketing media and in India and Pakistan. And this was the main topic of discussion on the Nihal Show on BBC Asian Network on Friday 31st May.
While he was trolled by some sections of the Twitterati, he was fervently supported by his fellow countrymen.
These sentiments were very much summed up by Ahsan Ahmed who
said: “What do you feel when you see your big brother standing proudly behind
the Queen in national attire? Immense Pride.
No matter what the world says we will always believe in you and your hardwork.”
What is heart-warming to see is that he was also supported by the fans of Pakistan’s main rivals, India.
Mr Jai Hind, which incidentally is also a slogan of national pride in India, meaning ‘Victory to India’ tweeted: “See absolutely nothing wrong with that. He is dressed well, looks good, embraces his culture, is confident enough to wear what he is comfortable in. See no reason for making any concessions for the queen.”
Mohita also showed solidarity with her fellow South Asians with her comment of support: “It’s really sad that even in such a competitive world, we are judging based on clothes. Let me remind you sir, we Indians too have almost same culture and it’s good if @SarfarazA_54 wants to promote his culture. Also, GROW UP.”
Sarfaraz has not seemed bothered by any possible controversy that might have been caused. Pakistanis have been proud of their captain has responded with true class.
He said: “We met the Queen and Prince Harry who was also present. He appreciated all the ten captains and wished us best of luck.
“People dream about meeting the Queen so it felt great to represent Pakistan. That was a great honour for me.”
Showing that he has a sense of humour, he shared an interesting anecdote from the day: “Prince Harry was asking us if we’d played in England before, and how long we’d been here.
“And he asked me what I do. I said that I’m a wicketkeeper-batsman, and he said he’d like to bowl to me some day. And I said ‘okay, sure!'”
Pakistan will now hope that they can demonstrate their pride for their country on the pitch at this year’s Cricket World Cup!
You can read our preview of the Pakistan team at this year’s World Cup here.
You can follow our coverage of Pakistan’s matches on Twitter @cwcexperience
Images courtesy of the Twitter accounts of the Royal Family and PIA Airlines