What's sport without a little cheating?
Ball tampering is the ugliest skeleton in cricket's closet. It's hardly a scandal to the well trained cynical eye. Yet the game plods on, its honchos paying lip service to the supposed lofty ideals that the game stands for. Ball tampering has happened in the past, several culprits having dissected some of the finer techniques involved in the fine art of reverse swing. To be honest, the thing I hate most about 'reverse swing' is the phrase itself. Because to me, it is no more than a shameless euphemism unless someone can provide conclusive evidence that it can actually be achieved without resorting to underhand means. Anyhow, in the ongoing jamboree between the Pakistan team, ICC and Darrell Hair, the issues at stake are whether Mr.Hair was within his rights to penalise Pakistan for having altered the condition of the ball, and whether the Pakistan team brought the "game into disrepute" (I hate that phrase even more than reverse swing!). Or so we're told. What about ball tampering? Or, to put it more plainly, cheating. I am convinced that ball tampering is one of those instituionalised practices in the game that everyone dismisses with a wink and a nudge. I wouldn't get myself into knots about sledging, but this just disgusts me. It is quite characteristic of the ICC the way it has handled this crisis so far. Regardless of the circusmstances (except when there is physical danger to the players or if they are subjected racial/ethnic slurs), when a team refuses to take the field, they have to be held to account first. Accusations of colonial and/or racist attitudes are conveniently pulled out from the hat much too often these days, as in this case, without any basis. Indeed the Pakistan team, egged on by media and the establishment, went so far as to link the outcome of the incident and the health of relations between the West and Islam. Such lunacy and expediency should be seen for what they are and the bluff called. Instead, the ICC has pussyfooted as always. The throwing debate and the subsequent dilution of the laws was a first step on the slippery slope, it seems. There will be worse to come in the days ahead, something tells me. - NK