Call the Boys
By Dr Shireen M. Mazari
clearly been sending out wrong signals post-9/11
which has allowed all and sundry to attack and vilify
Pakistan at will. Even in the field of cricket,
we have allowed our players to take abuse at the
hands of racist umpires and an ICC which still seeks
to exude an imperialist legacy long after the demise
of British imperialism.
Why else would Pakistan's cricketing officials --
most holding office without any merit credentials
-- have allowed our hard working and dedicated team
to suffer insults, racist slurs and simply bad umpiring
over and over again. On the English team's tour
of Pakistan in 2005, we saw no protest to a clear
case of cheating, when Ian Bell wrongfully claimed
a catch to put an end to Mohammed Yousuf's flowing
innings. This, despite the fact that an appeal could
have been made to the umpires -- as Shane Warne
had done in the last match of the Ashes in England
the same year.
We also saw the Harmison incident when he physically
dislodged Inzamam by throwing the ball at him rather
than at the wicket, and we know the absurdity of
what followed. To no one's surprise, Darrell Hair
was central to letting the English team's unfair
tactics go by, but the fault also lay with chairman
of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Coach Bob
Woolmer who took no issue of this abuse of Pakistani
cricketers because they wanted to "maintain
a good spirit in the series".
So it should not have surprised us to see Pakistan
continue to be mistreated and abused on the cricket
pitch ad nauseam. Why did Pakistan not lodge a protest
against the appointment of Hair as a test umpire
for the present series is a question whose answer
lies in the colonial subservience of the PCB chief
to all things British. So the maltreatment continued
and most commentators have accepted the fact that
the England's Headingley victory was as much a result
of Hair's decisions as cricketing prowess of the
English cricket team. Yet the Pakistani officials
kept a highly questionable silence. In fact, I am
surprised our players kept their cool for as long
as they have done and Inzamam's only fault at the
Oval was to have reacted late in protesting and
then walking back on to the field.
Enough is enough. How much abuse are we Pakistanis
to take? We have been called "terrorists",
the slur "Pakis" is used with gay abandon
in England, and in cricket we have had to put up
with cheating and wrong decisions at the hands of
badly selected umpires. Now again, the ICC has chosen
to fault Inzamam without first collecting evidence
to establish whether the so-called ball-tampering
actually took place. How can the ICC charge the
Pakistani captain in this fashion -- all this is
reflective of an imperial approach towards a minion?
Why have no charges been leveled against Hair?
In these circumstances, it seems totally absurd
to continue to play in England. Just as South Africa
called off their tour of Sri Lanka on security grounds,
Pakistan should call off the England tour on grounds
of an unplayable environment. But the PCB officials
continue to grovel to the ICC and English sensibilities.
The PCB Chairman's mumbled defense, if one can call
it that, of the innocent Pakistanis is pathetic.
I have stated earlier in these columns, and I will
reiterate once again that the present PCB chief
has been bad news for Pakistani cricket and should
immediately be removed. We need someone who will
have the spirit to defend and support our team in
trying times. Cricket is a sport which is played
to win -- it is not a diplomatic tool nor should
it be sacrificed in the name of diplomacy.
The colonial hangover of the PCB chief was also
reflected in Pakistan being the only country that
opposed dilution of the umpires' authority by offering
players recourse to replays and so on. As for the
ICC, it is a body that has outlived its usefulness.
We need to remember that the chief executive is
Malcolm Speed who, like Hair, is an Australian.
The fact is that the ICC is destroying cricket.
In any event, given that most of the Test-playing
cricketing countries are independent non-white states,
why select an ICC chief executive from Australia?
Obviously, Pakistan is not going to get a fair decision
from the ICC. Why even bother to go to the hearing
when the charges have been made with no investigation?
As for the umpires, Hair was deliberately not put
on the elite panel of umpires when it was announced
in 2002 because of his controversial decisions in
the past. Once Malcolm Speed had strengthened his
position in the ICC after taking over in July 2001,
he became instrumental in putting Hair on the elite
panel in 2003. But Hair is clearly unfit given his
racism and very evident bias against South Asians
-- he referred to Muttiah Muralitharan's bowling
action as "diabolical" in his autobiography.
Given Hair's record, the ICC clearly showed mala
fide intent towards Pakistan by appointing him as
the umpire for the test series. Yet there was no
protest from Pakistan. As for Doctrove, he has only
joined the Elite Panel in March 2006 and in the
India-West Indies Test series in June 2006, he was
found dithering on a crucial decision involving
Lara and Dhoni. Perhaps he should have stuck to
his football refereeing.
With the deck stacked against Pakistan in England
and within the ICC, some points need to be reiterated.
• First, the Hair charge is simply without
any basis given the presence of 26 cameras at the
Oval none of which caught even the slightest hint
• Two, Inzamam was right to protest and the
strength and dignity of the protest should be sustained
with no compromise with the ICC or over the ODIs.
How much abuse will we continue to take? For once
let us stand behind our countrymen in their hour
• Three, if the Pakistani action was going
to result in forfeiture as a result of the umpires'
decision, then why were the PCB officers so ignorant
of the rules? The less said about Zaheer Abbas the
better, but are the PCB chairman and coach also
not well-versed in the cricketing rules?
• Five, Pakistani cricket needs professional
management. It does not deserve to be abandoned
to retirees from the Foreign Office or disgruntled
cricketers with their own agendas. A PCB that does
not have the courage or inclination to defend our
boys in their time of need should be disbanded.
• Six, the ICC should be replaced with a more
viable body in tune with modern times. In any event
the national cricketing boards should be the final
arbiters. Perhaps the ICC needs to be reminded that
it is the cricketers who bring in the paycheck and
other goodies to them so they need to ensure the
players' welfare not that of the umpires of ICC
officials -- who by the way have ensconced themselves
in Dubai now despite the fact that the UAE hardly
has any cricket history.
Finally, the PCB needs to sue Hair and Doctrove
as well as the ICC. Pakistan cannot be taken for
a patsy to be abused at will. At the end of the
day, if national cricket boards choose to ignore
the ICC, what can the ICC do in real terms? Colonialism
is dead -- let us rid ourselves of its vestiges
and its apologists.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. Courtesy The