That’s just not cricket

It makes sense to remember that it is only a clash of teams, not of civilisations

Shahryar Khan was a veteran Pakistani diplomat before Gen Musharraf put him in charge of the cricket board. Controversy has broken out in Pakistan’s tour of England, involving an umpiring decision [See this post on Cricket24x7]. Accusations of ball-tampering and bad umpiring are not new. But the import of Shahryar Khan’s statement certainly is:

“His attitude has upset our team more than once,” Shahriyar said. “It is wonderful to see cricket between a Muslim country and England, a majority Christian country, and both sides being totally appreciated. Cricket offers a bridge of peace, why destroy this over a technicality. [Times]

By taking ‘cricket diplomacy’ too seriously, Pakistan is risking damaging cricket without having much to offer and show for diplomacy. Gen Musharraf was quick to weigh in strongly in favour of the cricket team, doing his bit to transform sporting passions into political ones. Surely he is not oblivious to the political context of the current situation—for the unearthing of the transatlantic bombing plot, invoving Pakistan and British citizens of Pakistani origin is still fresh in the minds of people in both countries. If Musharraf was the enlightened moderate that he claims to be, he would have stayed out of fray, even if it is too much to expect him to cool tempers by pointing out cricket is, well, just cricket.

Update: Martin Samuel has an excellent op-ed in the Times.

11 thoughts on “That’s just not cricket”

  1. Over the last two days, the Pakistan teams seems be increasingly viewed as wrong and their actions as wrong. The sad bit is that this is happening only because of their own board officials and cricket “experts” who have diverted attention away from the fact that at lies at the core of this whole issue – that of an umpiring decision. By lacing their arguments with accusations of racism and anti-subcontinentalism (if there is any such thing), the Pakistanis are doing themselves no favour.

    Darrel Hair has played by the rule book and has done nothing wrong, PROVIDED someone did actually tamper with the condition of the ball, and unfortunately no names have been mentioned as yet.

    It is a very tricky issue, but frankly, I think (like Botham kept saying on TV) that it is extremely important for fans to know who altered the condition of the ball.

    As long as that is not made clear, I think Pakistan’s actions are correct. Statements such as the above are stupid and ill-timed.

  2. Darrel Hair is an individual. He is unlikely to lose his job, Even if he did, that would be one person who had lost his reputation.

    Pakistan on the other hand keeps losing face (the degree can be debated over) the more this incident stretches regardless of who is at fault and whether the situation should have occured at all.

  3. Brining religion into every matter is becoming more and more common with Pakistanis.

    The other day during 3rd test match, I watched an interview of Younis Khan. Ever sweet Mark Nicholas asked him why Pakistanis play like tigers. And Younis Khan said, “Yeah, we are Muslims you know; so whenever we play, we play like tigers.” WTF ?

  4. Religionisation of the Pakistan cricket team has happened in recent times. Samiuddin on cricinfo did a piece on the same as well a bit after Youhana converted his religion if I am not wrong. So you notice players say inshallah after every sentence and bowing and suchlike.

    On Shahryar Khan – his background has nothing to do with cricket and is a diplomat in the true sense of the word. I met him as a fan when Pakistan toured India in 98/99 and Khan was manager if I am not mistaken. I asked him the simple question “who do you think will win, India or Pakistan?” His answer – “Cricket will be the big winner..” and all that jazz.

    Larger than life statements without answering the questions and yet making you feel at easy while answering them is to be expected from him.

  5. The issue is not with Hair doing what he did in the letter of the law. This has more to do with the spirit of the law itself.

    Sure the umpire has the ability to award penalty runs, if he was *certain* that the opposing team was tampering with the ball. But, who could say, in the right *spirit* that the umpire can be absolutely certain ?

    You can say so, in the letter of the law, that the umpire saw the ball changed, and the fielding team was the only one doing the changing, and ergo, they are guilty.

    But, that is in complete contravention to the spirit of the law in particular, and the game, in general.

    Next time I hear the ICC talk about the “spirit of the game” when players appeal, sledge etc… who will respect them ? Everyone will point to the letter of the law and say, “We did no wrong”….

    It may sound implausible at this time, but the ICC can well find itself at the wrong end of a anti-discrimination lawsuit for either this ruling, or the next one it hands out in the name of “players upholding the spirit of the game”… I certainly hope it does… maybe it will knock some sense into the brain dead ICC.

  6. Whoah Nitin! What’re you doing on a cricket blog? 😉 But remember that Musharraf is the chief patron of the PCB. So in a sense, he does have the authority to enter the frame.

  7. Only thing I can say about the whole thing is, Hair and the Pakistanis deserve each other. Grab the popcorn, watch the fun.. what goes of our fathers only.

  8. By taking ‘Cricket diplomacy’too seriously,Pakistan is risking damaging Cricket…? Cricket is a multi billion dollars industry that is immune to such controversies.In the present politically surcharged atmosphere,when you are caught between devil and the deep sea,every single diplomatic point scored helps.Watch out,there is more to come

  9. umpiring is a noble job ..similar to a judge ..

    if umpire is biased toward some elements….and is not neutral ….and its behavior is like a policeman …..then i really feel sorry for cricket…. without any prooof he called the whole 11 member team at the ground cheat….a team who is repesenting a country and millions of people watching it.. they behaviour of the umpire and it decision was pathetic … he deserves to be sacked …

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