ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A game of cricket is good for U.S.-Pakistani relations, but that's about as far as it goes. President Bush says baseball is where his heart is.
After a day of meetings, Bush rolled up his shirt sleeves Saturday afternoon and headed out to the lawn of the U.S. Embassy to play the baseball-like sport with Pakistani students.
He took his turn at bat after a few pointers from Shahryar Khan, chairman of Pakistan's Cricket Board, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, captain of Pakistan's Cricket Team.
Bush took three practice swings with the bat, which is flat on one side and humped on the other. He pretended to knock dirt from his shoes like a baseball player stepping up to the plate, then strode up to the wickets for a few swings.
The president connected with the first pitch, was hit in the shoulder by the second one, and sent a third ball sailing into a tree.
"Put something on that thing," Bush called out to the bowler, the equivalent of a pitcher in baseball. "Do I have my elbow right?"
Asked whether he liked this country's national pastime better than America's, the former owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team paused and cocked his head before answering. "I haven't quite got the skills yet," he said.
"I'm a big baseball fan," said Bush, who brought autographed baseballs for each of the students from the Islamabad College for Boys Cricket Clinic.
Last April, cricket played a central role as India and Pakistan tried to resolve their long-running dispute over Kashmir. Talks between Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were squeezed around a Sunday cricket match in New Delhi between the two countries.