Cricket is often referred to as a gentleman's game, and it's not just a normal sport; its influence is way beyond the 22-yard pitch. Its influence has increased a lot in the past years. The game has been used many times in the past to strengthen the relationships between the countries and promote peace, among others, from the 2011 World Cup semi-final to the 2004 India tour of Pakistan. Today, we will look at times when cricket was used as a tool for diplomacy and international relations.

1. 2011 World Cup Semi-Final

This was one of the most anticipated matches of the World Cup. This match was between India and Pakistan in Mohali. It is believed that because of this match, the tension between the two countries had eased down after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The then-prime minister, Manmohan Singh, invited the then-Pakistan prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, to watch the match together. This high-profile match was dubbed the "Mother of All Matches," and they discussed bilateral issues.

2. 1987 Test Match Between India And Pakistan

The invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union increased the tension between India and Pakistan, and this was in the same year when both of these countries were about to host the 1987 World Cup. Then Pakistan's President Zia-ul-Haq watched the test match in Jaipur with Rajiv Gandhi, and the matter was de-escalated. This can be an example of how cricket can be used for international relations.

3. 2023 Border Gavaskar Trophy

In the fourth test match of this edition of Border Gavaskar, Narendra Modi called the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, to celebrate the 75 years of diplomatic and cricket relations between the two countries. Both the PMs sang the national anthem, shook hands with the players, visited the “Hall of Fame museum inside the Narendra Modi stadium, and finally, they tossed the coin to start the match.

4. 1996 World Cup

This edition of the World Cup was hosted by India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. The timing for this edition was supposedly very bad as there were political tensions between the countries and the civil war in Sri Lanka. India and Pakistan had long-standing territorial disputes, particularly over Kashmir. They co-hosted the event, creating an atmosphere of cautious optimism for regional cooperation. This event showed the world that sports can be used as a testament to the unifying power of sports.

5. 2004 India-Pakistan Test Series

India toured Pakistan after 10 years due to the political tensions between them. Both teams toured each other for the next three years until 2008 when Pakistan was banned from hosting any home matches. Pakistan gave thousands of visas to Indians who watched the match, and this series consisted of 3 test matches and 5 ODIs, India won both of the formats. This series was called the "Friendship Series."

6. Zimbabwe Tour Of England

Cricket is not just used for good things between countries, but it can also be used to show they are against them, and just like England did with Zimbabwe when they were supposed to tour them, the England board canceled the tour, and the government of England canceled the series because of the situation regarding the 2008 Zimbabwean presidential election, and the England board wanted to ban Zimbabwe from international cricket.

7. Afghanistan’s Rise In Cricket After The Taliban

The Taliban banned every sport in the country, but in 2000, they allowed cricket to be played. In 2001, with the help of the Pakistan Cricket Board, they formed the ACB  and received recognition from the ICC. Afghanistan became an affiliate member, and then their rise to the top level is often considered the best in cricket, where they played these matches to engage with other nations to foster diplomatic relationships and present a positive image on the global stage.