Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Race Card

This is a post I wrote about a month ago but didn't actually post so it may not be relevant to the current context. Two events, in my mind, contributed heavily to change the geo-politics of world cricket forever. The first was when, against supposed odds, India and Pakistan managed to lure the cricket World Cup away from England, having recognised the potential of the game as a money spinner. The second was when Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled repeatedly by Ross Emerson, triggering that finger-wagging response from Arjuna Ranatunga. The first event was a step in the right direction and perhaps was seminal in brushing away the cobwebs of the colonial past. I'm not being judgemental about the conduct of the Sri Lankan team here, but the second I fear was the starting point of a rather more distrubing trend, the use of the same colonial and/or race card at the drop of a hat. The subcontinent nations have certainly had to cop colonial and racist attitudes, but we have now reached a point where any crisis is examined in the backdrop of racism rather than just the merits of the arguments from the parties involved. The whole Oval forfeiture affair was just the latest in this sordid saga. Whatever the arguments against Darrell Hair's judgement, refusing to take the field was a grave offence that should have attracted the strictest penalties in accordance with the laws of the game (if there are any, given that this was a first). Insteas, what ensued was a total fiasco that has left no one in doubt as to what the outcome was about: power play. As much as I hate to admit it, the subcontinent cricket boards are now somewhat guilty of the same attitudes they once fought hard against. The fact that cricket and nationalism are quite entwined makes matters worse. What should have been a technical issue to be resolved by the sport's governing body became a matter of national pride for Sri Lanka. Some may also point to the Mike Denness affair as another example of the BCCI strongarming the ICC and they may have a point (even though Denness crossed all lines of fairness in handing out arbitary punishment). Many cricket commentators have rightly lambasted the ICC's handling of these issues and if the ICC is increasingly seen as being bullied by Asian cricket boards, it is not going to help anyone. - NK PS: I still have reservations about some of the attitudes of English and Australian commentators as well as players on the Zimbabwe issue. We all agree Mugabe is heading a despicable regime, but the said could be said of many around the world. To equate the Zimbabwe situation with apartheid era South Africa is being facetious and dishonest. How many nations have cut off relations with Zimbabwe? If not, why not? Also, I do not remember any English or Australian cricketers refusing to take the field when the 'rebels' came back into the fold. So much for principled stands.


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