“Love for religion should come from within and stay there. My faith is between me and my God. I think the more we keep religion out of education, sports and politics, the better.”
—Maria Toorpakai Wazir, Pakistan’s No. 1 woman squash player.
The selection of Mohammad Amir to Pakistan’s national squad stirred up a hornet’s nest not just in the local media but also had the nation and former and current cricketers divided about the merits or demerits of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision.
Two of his teammates Mohammad Hafiz and Azhar Ali refused to join the camp and relented only after some convincing by the PCB.
Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif were banned for accepting money in a spot-fixing scandal involving a Test match at Lord’s against England in 2010.
The three players and their agent Mazhar Majeed were jailed by a British court in 2011.
They were also banned by the ICC for five years.
Amir was then only 18.
The ban has been served and Amir served notice of his precocious talent by handily claiming wickets by the bagful.
22 wickets in four non-first class games, another 34 in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy capped by another 14 in the Bangladesh Premier League.
The Pakistani selectors could hardly ignore him given their lack of pace options.
“My stance was based on principle and it was portrayed in a wrong sense. My stance is the same against all players who stained Pakistan’s image through corruption.
It’s my right to raise my voice, which I did, and I will do everything in my capacity to fight corruption. My stance is that all corrupt players should not be given another chance to represent Pakistan.”
The PCB stuck to their guns claiming that they were right.
Their statement read:
“There are a few players and commentators who are opposed to his selection. But in the past, spot fixers and drugs cheats have been permitted re-entry in to the international arena after serving their sentence. They include Marlon Samuels, Herschelle Gibbs, Tyson Gay [an American sprinter],
After serving his six-month probation, Amir has been participating in domestic first class cricket with success.
He has also performed well in the BPL. Accordingly, Amir has been called to the fitness camp which will enable him to bond with national players. His selection for the national team, for which he is eligible, would depend on the selectors.”
The PCB has a point. Amir has served his sentence and has to be given his chance for redemption.
Rashid Latif, who risked his career blowing the whistle on his former teammates in 1995, was not so forgiving.
“Amir is a living example of someone who betrayed Pakistan in an international match.
Let him live his life but don’t allow him to play for the country again. He can play domestic cricket and play in different leagues but don’t allow him to wear the same national colour which stalwarts like Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Wasim Bari, Fazal Mahmood and Javed Miandad wore with pride.”
Mohammad Yousuf felt otherwise.
“Amir is a wonderful bowler and since he has completed his sentence he has every right to play for Pakistan again.
Amir is performing very well since his ban was lifted and his inclusion will strengthen Pakistan team, so I back his inclusion.”
Azhar Mahmood, writing for PakPassion.net, said:
“I think it is the right thing to do and I support the PCB in this decision. Look, we as human beings are prone to make mistakes. This is human nature. In Amir’s case, he made a mistake and has served his punishment. Now that the ban has lapsed, it’s time for everyone to move forward and give him another chance. Even from a religious point of view, we need to forgive him and move on.”
Amir , the man at the centre of storm , said:
“I promise that I will do my best to respect the prestige of the green cap and Pakistan shirt.”
It’s a crying shame, really.
Shashank Manohar may have begun ‘Operation Clean-Up’ on the right foot but the even-handed BCCI President couldn’t prevent Shiv Sena activists from barging into his headquarters in Mumbai and disrupting the scheduled bilateral series talks with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) counterpart Shahryar Khan.
Boria Majumdar puts it aptly in his column:
“In India we celebrate cultural tolerance and plurality, we are forever ready to uphold freedom of expression and speech and most importantly are always open to dialogue. What happened in Mumbai goes against the very grain of what we stand for and that’s what has left us all with a sour aftertaste. Had Shashank Manohar been able to tell Shahryar Khan that the series is off because the situation is not conducive or the government has not given bilateral cricket a go ahead, it would have been far better for both cricket Boards. But to see a meeting stymied by a few political extremists who barged into the office of the BCCI president, which was left unguarded and to see these pictures being transmitted round the world is rather disconcerting.”
The shame is not that a bilateral series between the two countries has once again been pushed onto the back-burner.
To be realistic, if the two boards were really intent on continuing relations, they could have easily opted to play in Abu Dhabi (as other cricketing nations have been doing) thus avoiding security concerns and untoward elements in either country.
That is not the nub of the issue.
If you were to read the newspapers and media reactions to Pakistani writers, cricketers and artistes, you would believe that anti-Pakistan sentiments are at an all-time high.
Is that really so?
Isn’t it more likely that certain opportunistic parties have raised the bogeyman once more to gain political mileage and divert attention of the general public from more pressing concerns about governance or rather the lack of it?
The more closely you look at the matter, the more apparent it becomes that having any sort of ties with the ‘enemy’ across the North-West border is a political decision. The mandarins in New Delhi have the final say.
Perhaps, realpolitik dictates otherwise.
For actual progress to occur, a nod must begin from the Prime Minister’s office and then only can the nation rest assured that change is in the air.
A bottom-up push is not the way to build bridges across a diplomatic divide.
That would be a revolution.
Road rage almost claimed a high profile victim this side of the Arabian Sea. Former Pak bowling superstar and commentator Wasim Akram escaped unscathed when an unidentified person shot at his car tyres.
The incident occurred on Wednesday in Karachi.
The ex-cricketer was on his way to a training camp for young fast bowlers.
“A car hit mine, I stopped him and then this guy stepped out and fired at my car. When I asked the driver to come out he suddenly opened fire at me. He was definitely an official, I have noted the number of the car and given it to the police.
I am still in shock. There was no threat. I was going to to stadium for the camp. Your (media) job is to find out who that person was. If he can do it with me, then you can imagine what he would do with the common man.”
“It was just an accident when I was coming to the stadium. There is lot of rush at this time and I was in the middle lane and a car hit my car from behind. I signaled the driver to come to the side but he tried to make a fool and tried to race off which irritated me a lot
I got a bit frustrated and chased that car and blocked it and while I was standing and arguing with the driver a person stepped out from the back seat holding a gun and pointed it at me. But since the traffic had stopped and people recognized me as Wasim Akram the man than lowered his gun and fired at my car which was very scary.”
Senior police officer Munir Shaikh said:
“This was just an incident of road rage. We have identified the car from CCTV footage and will have the suspect in custody in a couple of hours.”
According to Wikipedia,
“Road rage is aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle. Such behavior might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions that result in injuries and even deaths. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving.”
Manifestations of road rage include:
The DMV website advises motorists how to deal with road rage thus:
“You must realize that you can’t control another driver’s behavior, but you can control your own. When another driver cuts you off, how you react will determine what happens next. If you are able to back off, take a deep breath, and remain calm, then you can defuse a potentially violent situation.
True, you might need to vent about the driver tailgating you all the way from town or the overly cautious motorist who consistently drove under the speed limit. Venting your frustration is normal and healthy, so long as you vent appropriately.
Talk to a friend or family member about the driving experience―telling the story can relieve your stress. Some driving clubs or online discussions offer members a chance to vent their frustration.”
The DMV page adds:
“In 5% to 7% of the nearly 10,000 drivers studied, road rage behavior was present. A general theory came out of the study, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) was identified as the cause of road rage.
Losing your temper used to be just bad form; now it has a diagnosis and can begin in the early teens. People diagnosed with IED have had multiple outbursts that are way out of proportion to the situation at hand. Generally, someone gets hurt or property is damaged.
Whether or not you believe in a medical basis for road rage, you still need to know how to deal with it. Uncertain situations can escalate unpredictably, and the best advice is to avoid confrontations altogether. If you tend to provoke other drivers or are on the aggressive side of road rage, put some effort into learning new driving habits.
And for those of us who run the middle of the road, maintain those defensive driving skills and keep a watchful eye on developing hazardous situations.”
Driving under the influence gets the headlines especially when accidents involving deaths hit the headlines like the Salman Khan case. However, aggressive and drowsy driving can be equally potent and harmful manifestations of carelessness behind the wheel. Perhaps, it’s time that besides breath analysers, yawn-o-meters and BP monitors are pressed into service by our hardworking defenders of the law. Perhaps, autonomous vehicles—as tested by Google—are not such a bad idea after all. Mass public transit systems always remain an option as long as they are not priced out of reach like the Mumbai Metro system threatens to be. As for raging maniacs, it’s simply ‘commuter rage’ now!
A driver is in charge not just of himself; he is also the steerer of 2000+ pounds of heavy metallic machinery that can cause immense damage when misdirected. It can act like a manned, guided missile.
It is in everyone’s interest if drivers recognise their aggressive tendencies and take steps to prevent untoward and possibly fatal incidents.
Don’t drive drunk.
Don’t drive angry.
Don’t drive sleepy.
As someone once said, “Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”
The quarters are over and the winners gave no quarter. Well, almost.
The results followed the dictates of the form book.
South Africa defied the odds and tore up the ‘chokers‘ tag. Perhaps, this is the Cup that will cheer the Proteas .
India made the semis but not before having to overcome some tight bowling in the first 35 overs. They were also the beneficiaries of three decidedly dubious decisions from the umpires. The result could have been much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Pakistan’s batting failed again but Wahab Riaz took the fight to the Australians in an inspired spell of fast bowling that had Shane Watson hopping, skipping and jumping like a cat on a hot tin roof.
New Zealand had it pretty much wrapped up when they scored close to 400 runs with Martin Guptill registering the second double-century of the tournament. The primary prima donna record holder Chris Gayle flattered to deceive in a brief stay at the wicket. The West Indies captain Jason Holder impressed one and all with his composure under pressure.
What he said:
Geoff Marsh is pleased as punch to present the baggy green cap to his second son, Mitch, who made his debut for Australia against Pakistan in the first Test at Dubai on the 22nd of October.
Marsh’s elder son, Shaun, was bestowed the honour by his father in 2011.
“It was quite tough, really. It was a real honour to be asked to do it. It was just pleasing, more pleasing that he’s got the opportunity to play Test cricket.
I’m pleased for both my boys. They followed me around while I was playing Test cricket and coaching Australia. Deep down you could see it in their eyes they wanted to follow in those footsteps and now they’ve both been given that opportunity. Hopefully there’s a lot of cricket left in them.”
On Michael Clarke’s assertion that Mitch could be a future captain:
“It’s nice to hear the Australian captain say things like that.I said to Mitch you’ve just got to take every day in Test cricket one day at a time. Test cricket puts out a lot of challenges, you’ve got to meet those challenges and you only do that through good focus and concentration and working hard.
He’s only a young boy. He thinks about the game a lot. We’ll just wait and see. He’s got to get through a lot of hurdles. He’s only young, hopefully he can just perform well and consistent and see what happens after that.”
What Geoff Marsh really meant:
“It would have been even better if the Australian side were simply a Marsh XI.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Hindsight is eleven-eleven.”
What he said:
“Misbah is an innocent captain, if someone else given the statement over captaincy, he will be thrown in the sea.”
Ijaz Butt renews his feud with Shahid Afridi taking umbrage at the all-rounder’s statements about Misbah-ul-Haq’s captaincy. The remarks sparked speculation that the 40-year-old will step down as skipper for the World Cup given his recent run of low scores.
“Every captain has his own approach and I can’t be Misbah and Misbah can’t be Afridi. If he is comfortable with his approach then what is the problem? But players around him should not become Misbah. Each player has his own strengths and he should carry out what he is capable of rather than suppressing himself.
If he [Misbah] is winning matches with his approach then what is the problem? I am different and have an aggressive nature. I love to play aggressive cricket because people in my country are aggressive, my players are aggressive and I want them to play aggressive cricket. I love watching them playing aggressive in the field. I know when they play aggressive cricket, they are expressing themselves.”
“Earlier, the time and the atmosphere was different after the spot-fixing. It was tough to gel the dressing room but I treated every player accordingly; younger were given affection and some needed to be given fear of the stick. You know our nation runs on the strength of a stick.
But captaincy in Pakistan is a challenge. I was aggressive even off the field. It haunted my earlier stint. I have learnt the lesson though; things should be operated amicably. But my mindset in the field is the same as a leader is the one who should decide the playing XI, he is the one who has to get his boys to fight on the ground. He knows what he wants and he is the one who has to face everything after the match. Whoever is the captain, he should be given ample authority to pick his best players.”
The stick Afridi refers to was very much in evidence when the controversial and temperamental talent recanted his criticism of Misbah.
He clarified later in a statement issued by the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB):
“Let me state at the very outset, Misbah is the best choice as Pakistan captain for the ICC World Cup 2015. I have always backed him to the optimum whenever I have played under him, just as he had when I had the honour to captain the Pakistan team.
I have said this before, and I reiterate, that I shall continue to serve Pakistan Cricket and fully support Misbah to the best of my ability.
This is my final statement on the issue.”
Ijaz Butt was PCB chief when Afridi was sacked as captain of the T20 and ODI sides in 2011 on disciplinary grounds.
What Butt really meant:
“I don’t really like Shahid Afridi. I like Misbah. He’s a lamb. Afridi’s a shark. He should be thrown back into the ocean.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“You know that we can’t let Afridi go, at least, not until the World Cup’s over. So…”
What he said:
“Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet.”
Saqlain Mushtaq is confident that the doosra—the off-spinner’s googly—can be bowled legally without flexing one’s elbow beyond the stipulated limit of 15 degrees permitted by the ICC.
“I have always believed you can definitely bowl it with a legitimate action, working on various aspects of your body. You can bowl the doosra with your fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulder and you can even get it right with your foot positioning. Every individual has his own physique. If you don’t have strong shoulders you can execute it through you wrist and fingers and use elbow to bowl a faster one. In either case you have to have strong control over your wrist and ensure it doesn’t collapse. And without the kink you can safely bowl a doosra within the permitted flex.”
Mushtaq additionally believes that a new mystery ball can always be devised and added to the craft of spin bowling.
“Why not? A person is made of this earth, which has not been discovered completely yet. So when you start thinking and start experiencing deeply, then you start experimenting. And then what you produce, that is a real invention.”
What he really meant:
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust and God created man from clay. The earth and specially the seas have not been fully explored. And who knows what elements may still be discovered? Necessity is the mother of invention. We sub-continental chaps are about jugaad, my friend. We’ll make do somehow, 15 degrees or less.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“And Muttiah Muralidharan is made of plasticine.”
What he said:
“So yeah, you can term my performance in the final as my `Gangnam act under the bar’.”
Indian hockey goalkeeper and member of the victorious Asian Games squad, PR Sreejesh, is happy with his ‘dance moves‘ during the penalty shootout against Pakistan in the final. The goalie foiled two out of four attempts by their sub-continental arch-rivals.
Sreejesh is a huge fan of the Korean pop star Psy specifically his hit number ‘Gangnam Style‘. The Korean singer-dancer performed at the opening ceremony of the Incheon Games.
“I like music and love to dance as well. Whenever I travel to practice, I listen to music and this time in Korea I was listening to Psy. I was happy to meet him during the opening ceremony and was inspired by him.”
On playing Pakistan twice:
“We didn’t play well against them in the group stage. So we reflected on our performance in that match and felt that we really need to improve. We didn’t want negativity to creep into our minds and thought positively. The team spirit was excellent. We knew the final would be a tough one and fought as a unit. And that paid dividends.
There is extra motivation to do well against Pakistan. Believe me, I was under no pressure when I went into goal for the shootout. I was 100% sure that I am going to keep the Pakistanis at bay and we are going to win. The team had huge belief in me and they also felt I would do nothing wrong in the shootout.”
On his goalkeeping:
“I can still improve. My goalkeeping has improved considerably when I had short stints with two goalkeeping coaches in the past, Martin Drijver and Dave Staniforth.
I hope we can have a permanent goalkeeping coach. Then not just my performance, the performance of other goalkeepers can also improve.”
What he really meant:
“You’ve got to be light on your feet and agile both as a goalie and a performer. It’s all about style, Gangnam style.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Now if I could only get Psy to co-star with me on ‘India’s Dancing Superstar’ or ‘Zara Nachke Dikha’.”
What he said:
“Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf went while crying. When Inzamam was leaving, I was the one who went and clapped for him.”
Pakistani veteran bat Younis Khan is furious at being left out of the squad for the ODI series against Australia. The Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB) indicated that he will not be considered for next year’s World Cup either.
“Don’t select me, not even in Tests. I sacrifice my future.I am saying a simple thing, if they are saying that youngsters are future of ODIs, then where is the future of Pakistan in Test cricket? Don’t select me in Test matches and make [the youngsters] the future of Pakistan in Test cricket too. But what will happen if they can’t make a team for ODIs and Test matches after five months, will they again do recalling?
I won’t die and I won’t be 70-year-old in four-five months, if they don’t let me play with dignity then so be it. They have hurt me, they have hurt me when they said that players like me have no future. Then who has a future? So a player like me should shoot himself? When they are 35, 36, players like me wake up at seven ‘o’ clock, show commitment, I can do only this. Instead shoot ourselves, don’t play cricket at all, don’t play domestic cricket at all? I will wait for 4-5 months. They are saying that I don’t have a future, I will wait, I am not retiring, I will wait, may this team go ahead, if they make the team [strong] I won’t come back.”
“I came back after almost 17-18 months, but they said he is not in our future plans. Who has a future then? I give my 120% as a player, I am perhaps the only cricketer [who does so]. I am not saying drop a youngster and let me play. I am just saying that justice should be done with players like me, give us what we deserve. My nephew died and I came back. When they do such things with senior players, what will youngsters think. Change doesn’t come like this, you can’t wave a magic wand.
Don’t let everyone be treated in a similar manner, those who have raised the flag of this country, don’t disrespect them otherwise no youngster will play for Pakistan.”
The former skipper advised Pakistani youngsters thus:
“Is this my mistake that when youngsters struggle they come to me instead of going to coaches and I do help them? I try to help Pakistan, and still I am surprised that I have played for 14-15 years for Pakistan.
I never told anyone to back me in media or phoned anyone [about selection]. If I deserve Test matches and ODI I should be given chance. Is this my fault that I don’t go to selectors? I don’t call them? I don’t meet them before going for the match? England media was very harsh on us in 2009, when they used to allege us that we were doing ball tampering, then I stood firm and I defended Pakistan. I was the captain when Pakistan won the World T20. If this is my mistake, then my suggestion to youngster is don’t play for Pakistan. Don’t think about playing for Pakistan.”
What he really meant:
“Very few (Pakistani) cricketers are allowed to go out in style like Sachin Tendulkar. They are pushed out whether they like it or not. It’s just not cricket that they are (I am) unceremoniously dropped.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“Can you lend me your kerchief, please? Mine’s soaked and salty.”