Anorak News | Cricket In A Bad Light

Cricket In A Bad Light

by | 21st, August 2006

THERE’S a picture of three men looking at a cricket ball on the cover of today’s Times.

Is this a British take on America’s Magic 8 Ball, the sporting device that predicts the future? Are umpires Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair hoping the ball will tell them what to do next? Is the third of the three, Pakistan captain Inzamam–ul-Haq, in the process of deciding that his team will not play any more?

And the ball is all important. To the umpires, the ball says Pakistan have been cheating. The men in white coats call for a new ball and penalise the Pakistanis five runs for ball tempering. The game can continue. Ball tampering is no big deal in the modern game. England are in bat.

The game then breaks for tea, after which the Pakistanis decline to return to the field of play. It seems that ball tempering is big deal to them.

Diplomatic talks are held. Dr Naseem Sharaf, a special emissary for Pakistan’s President Musharraf, ties to ease the situation.

And protest made, the team emerges after 45 minutes. But they have taken too long. The umpires have decided the game is at an end. Pakistan have failed to show up. Game over. England win.

“It’s just not cricket!” says the front page of the Independent. It is so much more. It is history and politics colliding with sport. Forget the ball tampering – something that has gone on ever since a player took his wife’s emery board into the match. This is a bigger issue.

At least it is to the Guardian. It cannot resist telling its readers: “This may have bitter consequences for both cricket and community relations in this country.” And “it can only fuel the alienation felt by some British Muslims at a time of great strain”.

Can it? It might have the opposite effect. Especially in the crowd, where 22,000 England and Pakistan fans were left cursing a fit of pique by a team with form when it comes to ball tampering.

Right it is that Pakistan should not be brought to book by reputation – something hardly helped by this confusing action. The case should be viewed on its merits. And the players should just play the game.

Posted: 21st, August 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink