Articles of the year 2010

Ball Rage
Published on February 06th, 2010

It was indeed sad to see a great cricketer such as Shahid Afridi reduced to biting the ball at the WACCA and watched by millions around the world. I have always been a fan of the great 'boom boom' ever since he set the world record for the fastest hundred, in only 37 deliveries, in Kenya. This record was set against Sri Lanka the then World Champions, so it was not against an unknown team.

He was also beloved by the fans for they could always expect fireworks with Shahid at the crease. He was guaranteed to entertain the public and he never let them down. But biting the ball? That was a first in Pakistani cricket or anywhere for that matter. Caught live on the 16 cameras that fol-low the game, with two cam-eras dedicated to stay focused on the ball throughout. There was no chance of any excuse whatsoever. He gna-wed away in frustration and anger, blaming the ball for the Pakistani predicament.

The Pakistani cricketers were on the receiving end of a sound thrashing by the Aussies and were having their noses rubbed into the dirt. The sledging must have been merciless knowing the Australians. Poor Shahid not known for being the brightest spark of the eleven - snapped and did not care if there were a hundred cameras on him - the ball was his enemy and he would have his way. While a whole country watched in dismay, sending our spirits cringing to a new national low. There is one other instance of sporting gaffes that comes to mind, and that is when Iron Mike Tyson bit off a piece of his opponent's ear. But that was not the sport of gentlemen, this behaviour has no parallel, its just not cricket as the famous saying goes.

The outburst that shocked us is symptomatic of the malaise being visited upon us by our uncaring rulers. Leaving us frustrated, angry and despondent, but most of all a rage is simmering inside us, not unlike Shahid and the ball. We may soon turn into a nation of 160 million biters. The rage is mounting, with the shortages of sugar, flour, gas, making life even more difficult. The public is furious, and the government is quite oblivious to the public needs, concerned only in protecting the system. One does not understand the need to protect a system that protects the corrupt.

It is being discussed in the corridors of power that a new National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) is on the cards that will have the support of all the legislators. We have already noticed the alacrity with which the pay increases and other benefits are approved, in almost indecent haste. No one has questioned these increases, including the bullet proof cars that take our leaders from one lavish air-conditioned residence to another, all courtesy of our poor, our undernourished, our uneducated, with no chance of them breaking out of their poverty traps, while the cocoon protecting the officers and their class, continues offering the perks that they help themselves to.

In the meantime the blood-letting in Karachi is increasing, 20 people being killed daily is a horrific statistic for any city. And that too between the two coalition partners of the government. It is unforgivable that a government can stand by and watch this civil war in the premier city of Pakistan. It is as if the rage that blinded 'boom boom' has spread to the citizens of Karachi, and instead of biting they are using guns to settle scores. "Democracy - the best revenge" as a slogan has been misinterpreted by the party workers, surely this was not the real meaning?

The consummate myopia that infects our politicians has taken hold of our cricketers, who think nothing wrong in being whitewashed by the Aus-sies, and feel no remorse, or shame. Somewhat like our federal minister, they do not think there is anything shameful in being caught admitting to corruption. Mr Iqbal Qasim it se-ems is an odd man out to ha-ve resigned while the redoubtable Ijaz Butt refuses to resign, claiming that he has the mandate to stay on regardless of the pitiful state of the Pakistani cricket, and the miserable perf-ormances including ball biting.

If anything, democracy is not meant for us to regress, for at this rate we are headed for the dark ages.

Cricket is amongst the most civil of sports but obviously the Pakistanis have given it a new dimension. For both 'democracy' and 'cricket' to be enjoyed need a sprinkling of largesse which means allowing the other side a fair turn with the bat.