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VIEW: After Sialkot, anger at the cricketers —Naeem Tahir
We associate victory with national honour. Is this not overdoing things to the extreme? We should be able to take pride in the performance of our team or some special players who make an outstanding effort. Why do we have to link an individual action with the larger-than-life concept of ‘national honour’?
An angry, aggressive and even vindictive mass is what our people have become. The killings in Sialkot shocked the sensibilities of the sensible and now, in a different way, it is happening to our cricketers on tour in the UK. In this case, the media shares the blame of total character assassination before finding anyone guilty. They have even forgotten the floods. If our heads have to hang in shame when our cricketers are found guilty, then our heads hang in shame now because of the reactions that the media is showing. The buzz of match fixing was present on the final day. It is as if we were looking for a scandal to hide behind and not accept a defeat. Defeat is unforgivable. Would we behave like this if the match had been won?
Some soul-searching is called for.
When we watch a game of cricket, what are we looking for? A good game, a match contested to the best of the team’s ability in given conditions, or only for the bottom line of ‘victory’? It seems most of the viewers, including most analysts, barring a few, look for victory only. Then, to make matters worse, we associate victory with national honour. Is this not overdoing things to the extreme? We should be able to take pride in the performance of our team or some special players who make an outstanding effort. Why do we have to link an individual action with the larger-than-life concept of ‘national honour’? Looked at from another angle, how do we treat our players who do well? As soon as the match is over, the television is switched off and the players and the team are forgotten. The players go back to, generally, a life of misery because most of them come from a life of hardship. The same is the nation’s attitude towards most of our artists; lots of praise if they please you, and no concern afterwards. Still, we want them to bring home some national pride! If they do anything like other common people that is not to our liking, we get so angry that we are ready to lynch even before guilt is established. If nothing else, then people from the media complete their role of character assassination as quickly as possible and want to be ahead of their competitors in doing so.
Let us look at the events currently being focused on. A ‘newspaper’ known for scandals seems to have hired a suspected ‘fraud’ professional, namely Mazhar Majeed, to get them a scandal. Mazhar Majeed, a day later, provided them with some videos of no-balls bowled by Pakistani bowlers. Also, he claims that he had phone conversations with three players. It may be remembered that the two bowlers, Amir and Asif, are the top bowlers in cricket’s world listing. Also, Amir has been honoured at the age of 18 for being the youngest player to have taken five wickets in England. He is also the ‘Player of the Series’. The hired person, Mazhar Majeed, also claims that the no-balls were delivered at the agreed time. Also, he says that it was ‘agreed’ that Amir would deliver the third over of the innings. A cursory look will tell anyone that Amir is the most successful opening bowler of the team and will, in any case, deliver the third over! No rigging is needed. It takes a dumb captain to take off the most successful bowler just after the opening six balls. Amir took six wickets on the first day and Asif took one. Together they brought about the collapse of the England team, later miraculously saved by their batsmen at numbers three and nine, who succeeded in creating a world record. This is what the game of cricket is like, always unpredictable. If Amir had made them collapse, the two batsmen reversed England’s fortunes. Why can we not believe that the English players fought back instead of accusing our players of dishonesty? And that too even before anything is proved? We believed merely the allegations of a scandalous newspaper, based on a suspect character, Mr Mazhar Majeed. Why do we not consider the possibility of someone trying to damage our rising players of the future? The players being nominated are Salman Butt, Muhammad Amir, and Muhammad Asif. The last two are the real hope for Pakistan. In spite of inconsistent performance by some, we must remember that this is the Pakistan team that beat Australia after 15 years and also beat England after nine years. This team has beaten Australia in both the Twenty20 matches. Our players could even have been framed. Is it fair to get after them in a hurry and shatter their nerves halfway through the tour? Are we not colluding with the conspirators unconsciously? I mean what is the panic all about? Almost every team in the world when playing at this level has suffered from allegations, but no one has created a ruckus like our impatient public has. How ridiculous it is of us to be taking out processions on donkeys with the names of cricketers from the national team. Some even want them hanged or at least given an exemplary punishment. Why get hysterical? The moment they win we go wild in their praise and the moment they lose we want to shoot them for one reason or the other. If there is something wrong with our players, there definitely is much more wrong with our viewing public, and some anchors and commentators are included. I would like to request our readers to please have some patience and let the facts be determined before anybody is punished or character assassinated. Please see a game as a game, a match as a match well played or not well played, and please do not link your national honour with every ball. You have chosen a young team and have generally welcomed it; help them, support them, encourage them and do not dump them without an established major cause. What if they are cleared? Please do not try to be more pious than the pope. Everyone can make a mistake, including you.
The writer is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor