Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

[Please see last post for backstory: https://docmitasha.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/make-note-india-won-the-indian-cricket-team-not-a-religion/ Also see the comments trackbacks to get some other interesting views on the subject]

This post has brought in a large number of readers here, and a couple trackbacks too, for which I am flattered (even the contrary opinions). I wanted to add a couple of points to those still interested in this debate:

 1. Mr Malik or his representatives have still not made an apology or clarified his statement…DISAPPOINTING. 

Overall, I think the controversy’s blowing over, which is a good thing, and should be attributed in part to the wise sections of the prominent media that realized that it would be best to cut off his words in most news (as far as I’ve seen) than let it propagate and cause more disturbance or even violence.

2. More people have made the argument regarding his English, which I didn’t really focus on in my piece. I respect their opinions completely, but I wonder here: even if he wanted to say “all Pakistani Muslims,” its still not right. What about the many Hindus/Christians in Pakistan? And if he meant prayers or anything else, I don’t see how the word Muslims come in. No matter how objectively I try to look at it, it just doesn’t make sense. And if he wanted to talk about prayers, give thanks to Allah (as did Irfan, etc.), he still didn’t need to use the word Muslims. I’ve heard a lot of bad English, and I sympathize, but this sentence is politically incorrect no matter what twist you put on it, and it just isn’t excusable. This is completely ignoring the other argument…why Malik, an international cricketer, has such bad English in the first place. I don’t personally know much about him and his background, but I think that gives him less credit than should be due.

3. My first post was written somewhat in the heat of the moment, and though I did not say anything too negative or harsh (in my opinion!), I do realize in retrospect that I put too much burden on Shoaib Malik himself, and thats unfair. I meant to include those whose job it is to PR him, to coach him in a sense. I’m sure a cricket team as distinguished and popular as Pakistan’s has someone like that, who kind of makes sure the celebrities know the right thing to say and don’t do anything stupid in public that could endanger their career (Britney Spears needs to fire hers, for example). These individuals should be held equally responsible, in my opinion, for not being diplomatic enough and taking care to wipe up his blunder and provide an explanation.

3. Why should a cricketer be politically correct? And why is there a need/controversy? Because a sportsperson has a humongous role to play. A sportsperson is an idol for millions and millions of children, teenagers, adults. He’s watched/loved/hated/worshipped by millions, who watch for what he does, what he has to say, how he thinks. The human being is after all a monkey, and “monkey do and say as monkey see” the alpha dogs of society do and say, to put it crudely. Like any celebrity, or politician, they have a duty and role to play in the society that has contributed to their fame, success, wealth. Like it or not, they have a responsibility because they have an influence (with great power comes great responsibility, as Spiderman was told).

And Malik has that duty. Even if its a burden, he has to stick to it. It was brought into the sport because he did, and at a very tense time as today, when everyone’s confused and scared and education about key subjects is inadequate. Ignorant people already equate all Muslims with terrorism or violence or group them all to come from the same country, etc. You might say its not our duty to fix stupidity…but if we don’t, guess who’s living in a dangerous world? US. And our children. I’m not exaggerating at all from Malik’s comment, because I’m too fully aware of the possible, scary consequences. One comment has started riots in the past, a single phrase, a single action. As a celebrity, Malik has the power to enable that danger, or suppress it.

To end with a more direct comparison: What if Shah Rukh Khan, one of the most influential men in India at least were to suddenly declare that he attributed all his success to Muslims? I think they’d be more than an uproar. Or if Pakistani singer Atif Aslam, whose amazing talent has brought him a huge opportunities and a market in India and the entire world, were to publicly state that he’d like to thank only the people of Pakistan, or Muslims worldwide for his success. He wouldn’t. It would be the stupidest, most dangerous mistake of his life, his career would be dead on the spot (which, on a side note, would be a tremendous pity) and it would be terribly mean to his die-hard fans of every faith and race and country. Or if the New England Patriots apologized to all Christians for their cheating scandal, and Michael Vicks apologized to all African-Americans for his dog-fighting case. I know, these all sound ridiculous, but they’re exactly parallel to Malik’s case–they are successes and failures, but they can’t be connected to anything else except to what they concern. IF any of these were to be true (lets hope they never are), how would you feel and react? I think there would be a LOT of anger, disappointment, shock and controversy. Wouldn’t it be a big deal, and pretty important to deal with, sort through and kind of smooth over?

Lets just make it easier on everyone in the world. When you’re in a position to attract a lot of attention (I think it’d be somewhat safe to say a little less than 1/4 of the world’s population was attracted by the match), when people listen to you and look at you as some kind of representative, then you need to watch what you say. And when you make a blunder, you need to take responsibility and apologize, and fix things the best you can. Because the rest of us, who can’t make their voices of reason be heard in a world where religious tensions take thousands of lives each day, are kind of counting on people like you to atleast do that much and not feed the fire.

EDIT: Here’s a different post, with another point to consider: http://desicritics.org/2007/09/26/070523.php

PS: Hey, I wrote a second post on cricket related stuff. Huh. Contradiction to my not-into-cricket principle, innit?
I’m heartened by the healthy dialogue on such subjects in the blogosphere and eager to contribute when good pieces are written about important topics. I’m always happy to hear pro/against my opinions in this blog, here or through email (check the other page), but please keep it calm/civil/knowledgeable. Thanks to those who’ve been interested in reading what I have to say! 🙂

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A Cricket Team, representing a country, NOT a Religion.

I’m not a cricket fan, ashamedly or not, except for that Lagaan cricket match that had me eating my nails. I’ve always been happy for people into the game, I’m sure its very exciting and a wonderful, unifying experience to watch a game and win/lose, share the sentiment. India, as is Pakistan, and South Africa, and England, and West Indies and on and on, is a country with fervent cricket fever. Everyone joins in, everyone goes crazy, laughs and cries and gets furious together. I miss that feeling here, and I know my cricket-crazy friends manage to recreate it, which is great. I’m usually too oblivious to follow in, and have to depend on everyone else to keep me updated.

For the Twenty20 international match, though, it was in the air. The radio announced the score this morning, and I couldn’t help wondering who’d win the close race. It was extremely well played, very exciting, and India won by only 5 runs, a really close match. Congratulations to India, the Indian Cricket Team, for their very hard-won and well deserved win. Congratulations to Capt. Dhoni for leading a team well, and to the man of the match, Irfan Pathan. Congratulations to Pakistan for playing so well, till the very end. Both teams deserve a pat on the back.

Friends and family in India (and Pakistan) had been praying for days, extra aartis were held, extra namaz was promised in this month of Ramadan. When the win happened, everyone was ecstatic. The Indian Cricket Team had won, India had won, and Indians across the world were overjoyed. Emails were passed around, phone calls were made, people screamed and hugged and yelled and many cried.


Irfan Pathan, the man of the match, was congratulated and feted. No one, no critic could deny the great job he had done. It was a historic day for India, for Dhoni, for Pathan.


Messages of congratulations came from everywhere. Shah Rukh Khan descended on the field, he flew in especially for the match, and enveloped the team in hugs. The Chak De spirit was everywhere. The Pakistan cricket team was, ofcourse, disappointed in their loss, especially since it came after such a close match. It is always painful to lose, and when you were so close to winning, its even more difficult. I can understand that. I can understand the immediate anger and frustration and unhappiness, and as the leader of a team, you feel it even more. You feel the need to defend yourself, or apologize, and its difficult. You’re not sure what words to use, how to phrase it, and make it sound right. So I can imagine, in a way, Shoaib Malik’s situation.

What I cannot understand, at all, is why in the world, even with nervousness and pressure, would the Pakistani cricket team and the Muslim world get mixed up in Malik’s comment to Ravi Shastri:

“First of all I want to say something over here. I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world.” (Quote)

I’m disturbed by this irresponsible and senseless statement. Pakistan does not represent the Muslim world. The Muslim world cannot be represented by cricket or a cricket team. The cricket team lost: it was a loss for Pakistan, not for Muslims world wide. It was a win for Muslims in India for one thing, Indian Muslims all over, and for all Muslims who were supporting India anywhere in the world. I’m amazed, and deeply disturbed that the captain of the team would make such a statement. It was wrong, and unprofessional. It was also complete nonsense.

There is a Hindu in the Pakistani team. There are two Muslims on the Indian team. The man of the match, Irfan Khan Pathan, was Muslim. Shah Rukh Khan, a Muslim, was there to celebrate in person on the field. Something’s out of line here, isn’t it?

[Mukul Kesavan wrote a great piece on Malik’s statement, expressing his disappointment and shock:


Even if these facts did not exist, it would still be an outrage. Many have said that we should just forget what he said, he didn’t mean it that way, his English isn’t very good, the sentiment is always there, etc etc. But I’m just at a loss: why is there a need to bring Islam into cricket? Whatever he wanted to say, why bring in Muslims at all? I’m not completely sure that Malik is innocent. Maybe this is indeed a prevailing idea thats always there that he just spoke outloud (its happened before, with cricketer Imran Khan), but here’s the key: in this age, in this time of stressed, tense relations, when the entire world is stepping on each other toes, you CANNOT, CANNOT, be in a position of fame and celebrity and say something like this outloud. Its wrong, irresponsible, and VERY, VERY DANGEROUS.


For people who still say we should let it go, take it as a mistake, its all a match, no big deal……I can’t.

Someone I’m close to is Muslim. Living in India. A prominent family in the town. Minutes after the match, there were demonstrations outside the house. “Muslims Murdabad, Pakistan Murdabad.” It was a dangerous, frightening situation. Shops closed down in the neighborhood, anticipating violence. Its happened before, and I’m not blaming Malik entirely. It happens in a country with tensions high between the religions.

But today, there were a lot more demonstrations and a lot more anger all over the country, all over the world. There were a lot of Indian Muslims today whose loyalty was questioned–whose team do they support? Whose side are they on? When a group of people were hugging and cheering, invariably some side suspicious glances fell on the Muslim in the group, after Malik’s statement. Was he/she really happy India won? There were Muslims today who felt accused and wronged in their own country, who had to bear unjustified looks from other ignorant people (there’s no lack of ignorance in this world), who were verbally and physically attacked in many places, who were saddened and shocked to be questioned and treated in this manner, when they simply wanted to do what everyone else was doing: share sweets, sing songs of victory, give prayers and thanks.

Malik had a difficult job today. He played well and admirably. He had an even more difficult and important job as the captain, the representative at a key match: what he said accepting his loss was crucial. He could have said something that could have built relations between the two countries of India and Pakistan. He could have said something about peace and sportsmanship. There are a lot of positive things he could have said. He could also simply have thanked and apologized to the nation of Pakistan. He chose, however, to make an ignorant, inflammatory comment that made no sense, that endangered and angered Muslims. Ignorance breeds ignorance, and no one seemed to have told him to be careful about saying something this ignorant.

To use Mukul Kesavan’s words: “He said something that goes to the heart of cricket’s loyalties, its culture, its plurality of race and faith and language.”

I’ll repeat it. The cricket team of India won. No religion is represented by sport (and hopefully never will). Muslims did not lose a match. Pakistan lost a match. Malik lost the respect of many.

He needs to apologize, immediately, and be taught to hold his position to build bridges, not to create rifts.

Music: Chak De India, from the soundtrack of the 2007 movie Chak De India.

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