At a time when the whole world was celebrating Pakistan Cricket’s ascent in T20 Cricket, a different kind of ‘Game was On’ on national TV. It so happened that at PTV Sports, a Cricket enthusiast turned host named Dr. Nauman Niaz was settling his personal score with one of the panelists, and what surprised all was that the person he was targeting was a national hero, Shoaib Akhtar...
Instead of celebrating Pakistan’s win against New Zealand, PTV Sports became the butt of all jokes for the Nauman Niaz and Shoaib Akhtar spat. From the clip that went viral, it seems the host ordered Shoaib Akhtar to leave the set if he wanted to as if he was a backbencher at some school trying to impress other students. Sadly, it painted the host as an insecure person who was either trying to impress the over-crowded panel or believed that all the panelists were there because of him, when in fact they were there for PTV Sports, which runs on taxpayers’ money.
We all know that Shoaib Akhtar likes to speak his mind, and had previously made fun of fellow Test Cricketer Sikandar Bakht during a live discussion, but he apologized for that joke back then and was expecting an apology from Nauman Niaz as well. However, the host first called for a break when Shoaib Akhtar became restless with an ‘Excuse Me’ after his stupid stunt and later didn’t apologize or try to stop Shoaib Akhtar from leaving the set.
Later Shoaib Akhtar spoke about the incident on his YouTube channel and discussed why he chose to step down from a panel where national heroes weren’t respected. He said that he chose to leave rather than embarrass the legendary cricketers who were there on the panel beside him.
The Rawalpindi Express even emphasized that no one can go on and insult a national hero on national TV, and his views were welcomed by all those who have seen him give his best for the country. Showbiz stars and celebrities showed their support on social media and demanded an apology from Dr. Nauman Niaz, who was trending on Twitter with the word Shame.
After so many tweets in favor of the fastest bowler in the world, even the management of PTV Sports took notice of the matter and decided to investigate it further.
It was not just a sad incident that went on air, but also damaged Pakistan’s image in front of foreign guests David Gower and Sir Vivian Richards. It must be noted that earlier this week, David Gower apologised to the people of Pakistan for his Cricket Board’s decision to cancel Pakistan’s tour; he must have felt so mortified when a host was ridiculing a fellow Test cricketer for unknown reasons.
And after all that drama, Dr Nauman Niaz used Twitter to clarify the matter, but he used the platform to paint it as a conspiracy. Instead of apologising to Shoaib Akhtar, he wished him all the best for the future, as if Shoaib Akhtar needs his wishes!
He may be very close to the PCB officials for some reason, might have spent some time at the national TV channel but that doesn’t give Dr. Nauman Niaz the right to ridicule someone who has won matches for Pakistan. Being influential doesn’t mean that he can go around ordering people off his set just because they were popular (and in Shoaib Akhtar’s case very popular) around the world.
It is sad to see PTV go down so badly, but that happens when you use influential people rather than professional journalists, commentators, and analysts as hosts. With the arrival of A Sports that airs cricket matches in HD Quality and somewhere in 4K, that airs fewer commercials during matches, has a panel that comprises of as many as three Test Captains, and is hosted by an unbiased, non-controversial and cricket-loving host Fakhre Alam, the importance of PTV Sports has diminished. With biased hosts, a set that would have been hailed as a masterpiece in the 1970s, shoddy production values, and dirty reception, it is nearing rock bottom, and incidents like these can prove to be a nail in its coffin.