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…
Dr Nauman Niaz vs Shoaib Akhtar . . Who was at fault here? pic.twitter.com/fineugxrQF— Mansoor Ali Khan (@_Mansoor_Ali) October 26, 2021
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.
Multiple clips are circulating on social media so I thought I shud clarify. pic.twitter.com/ob8cnbvf90— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) October 26, 2021
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.
Arguments happen during TV shows but no host tells their guest to leave. That was no way to address any guest, let alone one of the biggest international stars Pakistan has ever produced. What happened, happened; Dr Noman should have at the very least apologised to @shoaib100mph— Humayun Saeed (@iamhumayunsaeed) October 27, 2021
Very sorry to see the clip of Nauman Niaz insulting our national hero @shoaib100mph on PTV. Shoaib is a true hero and will always be. I cant believe Dr Nauman acted this way with an International celebrity in such a rude manner. Unbelievable— Mubasher Lucman (@mubasherlucman) October 26, 2021
Nauman Niaz needs to resign— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) October 27, 2021
If he won’t resign, he should be sacked pic.twitter.com/IAjFwqlUJO
Waiting for Nauman Niaz to apologise live on TV, hand in his resignation and walk away. He should be replaced by @shoaib100mph. Nauman’s outburst was entirely unjustified.— Nadeem Farooq Paracha (@NadeemfParacha) October 27, 2021
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.
پی ٹی وی انتظامیہ کا پی ٹی وی سپورٹس پر شعیب اختر کےساتھ پروگرام میں پیش آنے والے واقعہ کا نوٹس pic.twitter.com/Q9pwvLD08V— PTV News (@PTVNewsOfficial) October 27, 2021
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!
Cricket legend, David Gower, using the PTV-Sports platform, shared his disappointment and tendered his apology, on the tour cancellation by the English cricket team to #Pakistan during an interaction with @DrNaumanNiaz on our show #GameOnHai @David215Gower @fawadchaudhry pic.twitter.com/N6VkhGfn5e— PTV Sports (@PTVSp0rts) October 23, 2021
I wonder why one has to be reminded @shoaib100mph is a star. He has been the best of the best, he shall always be. He has brought laurels to the country is undeniable. One side of the story always attracts nonetheless having been friends for ages I’ll always wish him the best.— Dr. Nauman Niaz (@DrNaumanNiaz) October 26, 2021
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.