Chacha Cricket

Sufi Abdul Jalil, famous as Uncle Cricket or Chacha Cricket in Urdu - lives for the game and says he wants to die serving it.

"Cricket is my life, my passion. I can live without food, but I can't live without cricket. I pray that the situation in my country improves, so that cricket doesn't go away."

Attacks on the Sri Lankan team and match officials, which left eight Pakistanis dead and injured seven Sri Lankan players, have buried Pakistan's chances of hosting international cricket for some time.

Pakistan's March cricket tour of Bangladesh was postponed by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) while the International Cricket Council has raised doubts over whether the country can still co-host the 2011 World Cup.But Chacha Cricket is adamant things will improve soon.

"What happened is tragic," Jalil told AFP on Friday.

"My heart goes out to the Sri Lankan players and to all those who died in the incident. It should not have happened at all."

Jalil is a familiar sight at all international matches that Pakistan play home or abroad and was on his way to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the third day of the second Test when gunmen struck.

Having watched the first two days' play, he travelled "back to my home town Sialkot to bring cakes and
sweets for Sri Lankan opener Malinda Warnapura's father, Upali, who watched the match with me in the stands," recalled Jalil.

The 60-year-old hails from the same town as former captain Shoaib Malik and worked in the forestry department in the United Arab Emirates until 1998.

One of Jalil's three sons -- he also has three daughters -- played with Malik at club level but did not progress further.

It was in Sharjah where he developed a serious interest in the game.

"My first match as a spectator was in Lahore in 1969 when England came to Pakistan but I got into overseas matches involving Pakistan and India in Sharjah.


Once he retired, Jalil returned to his country. He became more prominent at cricket grounds when he started dressing in traditional Pakistan green -- from head to toe -- and permanently carries a national flag in his hand.

His loud patriotic slogans "jeevay, jeevay Pakistan (long live Pakistan) prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board to sponsor him on tour in England, India and South Africa.

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