Pakistan: Australia superfan pleasantly surprised by warm welcome
Australia superfan Luke Gillian has shared his experiences of contrasting visits to Pakistan in 1998 and 2022.
Gillian was part of a small touring party of fans that tagged along for the 1998 tour to Pakistan and has returned in 2022 as part of an even smaller group of brave travellers.
Aussie superfan amazed by warm welcome in Pakistan
The Australian cricket lover says that the Pakistan he has experienced in 2022 is a far warmer and more welcoming place than when he visited 24 years ago.
“It was perceived to be too dangerous to go outside,” Gillian detailed his 1998 experience to AFP.
“When I did get outside there were large groups of people walking in the streets and I had rocks thrown at me.
“And I went, ‘Nah, I am just going to go back home, I don’t need to put up with this’.”
The Spirit of Cricket
In 2022, Pakistan has traded tossing rocks for taking selfies, according to Gillian.
“I reckon, in Rawalpindi, 500 photographs were taken of me every day, easily,” the Australian added.
“I have been given I don’t know how many cups of tea, how many pieces of cake, bottles of Pepsi, water and just little incidentals people have given us as a ‘thank you’ — free haircuts, free laundry.”
Gillian isn’t on a mere holiday, but something of a pilgrimage for cricket.
He also wants the cricket world to know that it is safe to come back to Pakistan.
“I am here for the game, to show the outside world that we can actually watch cricket and travel to Pakistan and be safe, be happy and enjoy,” he said.
“Socially this is so much more relaxed than it was 24 years ago. It is so much easier to be here. So much easier to enjoy Pakistan.
“I think that love, and the embrace of each other and the game itself, if that goes across to the wider audience, then it can sell the great game and sell the connect between the two nations and two cultures.
“Win or lose, it doesn’t matter.”
Gillian’s trip and his attitude embody the oft-talked about Spirit of Cricket and the great Australian culture of mateship.
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