By Kartik Rai:
I feel sorry for Imran Khan. Arguably, one of the best cricketers Pakistan cricket has ever produced and one of the all time legends in the field of fast bowling and having had accomplished a feat many do not even dare to dream of. The man led Pakistan to their maiden World Cup win in 1992. But then times have changed. He himself has been involved in many controversies, though most political and some personal. No one can question the integrity and dedication with which he played every hour of his cricket life. He also helped in developing cricket in Pakistan and was indeed a role model for many a young fast bowler all across the world. One of them was born on April 13, 1992. Maybe if you are a cricket fan, you would get who this is, not because of the birthday, but because of the unwanted hype this cricketer has around him. No? Try this. Hansie Cronje? Okay its Mohammad Amir and I am strictly not drawing any comparisons.
He is barely the age you are while you read this and he has already balled some fabulous deliveries getting batting legends to err. But indeed some of his deliveries were infact “no balled” by the onfield umpires. Such a young age and such an exciting prospect yet being questioned for deliveries that did not even count. Such a shame.
As the cricketing world woke up on Sunday they thought it was a Sunday like every other. Cricket fans in India would be getting ready to have the usual game against their neighbourhood rivals, some who indeed have crossed this age or still like a sound sleep, would most probably read the day’s newspaper starting from the sports page; current International layers faced with the biggest decisions of their life-shooting for an advertisement or going for the scheduled optional practice session and for all the Godfathers who have been there done that, well they would just play the game with their kids or maybe just enjoy the day off. But not many would have indeed predicted the thick soup Pakistan Cricket would fall into. Now whether the controversy or accusations of a fixer in London are true or completely baseless is entirely your opinion. But just forget Amir, forget Pakistan, sit back and think just about one thing, or maybe two, Cricket and what it is today.
There was a time when everyone referred to cricket as the Gentleman’s game. Nowadays, it is only being used by either those who have been or are innvolved in the game or a handful of people who are paid to talk when Cricket matches are aired on TV sets across the world. It is almost like a qualification to use the term. Either be a cricketer in some sense or be a commentator. Not many others still think the game holds the same aesthetic value and many believe the Glory days of the past have long been lost.
Allegations, scandals, controversies and big black money are present in almost every sport today. What makes cricket different is just its sheeer vast fan following from across the world and just the glorious history that the sport has had. Consider the wonderful family memories which you all must have, at some time or the other shared due to an indian victory or a Sachin 100, care for the smile which Sachin put on the face of every Indian when he scored the only double hundred in the ODI game, or the joy with which the crowd errupted when Anil Kumble took an all ten against Pakistan, this game is something beyond what is seen with the human eye. This game is about emotions, about integrity, about professionalism and most so about pride, both for the cricketer playing for his country and pride for the fan when his favourite player pulls up something extraordinary. With more and more Hansie Cronjes and Andrew Symonds, the game is in fact losing its credibility. The handful of people sitting in their offices at the International Headquarters of the International Cricket Council at Dubai are obviously not doing a good enough task of maintaing the image of the game which it once had.
This allegation, and I still call it an allegation as it has not been officially proven to be true yet, even though most people have already announced their verdicts. Take the likes of Malcom Speed, an ex ICC chief for example advocating a ban on Pakistan Cricket from world cricket. Many would agree to this, some would not but yet no one can question the fact that the game just isn’t what it was before.
The only thing that’s gotten better is money. Fans are losing interest, players are losing discipline almost everyday. After all, how many incidents have you heard with Sir Don Bradman, Sir Vivian Richards, Sunil Gavaskar etc. These were the legends of the game and they knew how to conduct themself both on and off the field. Youngsters nowadays; well what can be said? It is not talent where they lack but probably the glitz and glamour of the game is far more tempting than the game itself.
So after every controversy, it is not the player’s image that gets tarnished, not the board that gets embarassed and not the country that gets humiliated. There is only one thing which suffers. It is just plain good old-fashioned cricket. I think we have forgotten what that is all about.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.
Image Courtesy: http://www.thatsfamous.com/4250-new-twist-in-pakistan-match-fixing-scene-pcb-not-to-suspend-players-without-strong-proof/