Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cricket is Just a Game...

...is not something you'd have believed last evening as howls of shock or joy erupted from houses across India during the nail-biting-at-every-step Twenty 20 World Cup final match between, who else but, India and Pakistan.

The thrill was tremendous, the finish was close, and the adrenalin was all over the place. But one thing spoilt it all.

As the Pakistan captain, Shoaib Malik came up to speak to Ravi Shastri, his first words were (and I paraphrase somewhat because I wasn't expecting memorable words), 'I'd like to thank Pakistan and Muslims all over the world for their support.'

WHAT??? This is a man the world was listening to. Who captained an able, strong side to the finals in a world-class tournament. Who (supposedly) plays for his country and not a religion.

We've all heard people make derogatory comments about the hush in Indian Muslim neighbourhoods if Pakistan loses a match to India. It is often said that there are celebrations in Muslim-majority areas in Indian cities if India loses to Pakistan. These are rumours that are used as facts in any communally tense situation. But to have a man give them the backing of truth by speaking those words into a microphone was upsetting, chilling, and took away from the rush we'd been experiencing ever since Sreesanth caught out that last Pakistani wicket.

If he believes that Muslims around the world were rooting for Pakistan, where does that leave Irfan Pathan (the best bowler on the Indian side yesterday) and other Muslim players on the Indian team? With that awful statement Malik placed a giant question mark on the patriotism of Muslims around the world.

I believe that the orthodox members of any community can damage their own people with far greater ease than any other, rival group can ever do. Malik proved that yesterday. And I wonder how many anti-Muslim people were listening and have now added this to their ammunition against a community that really doesn't need more bad PR.


A Muser said...

Frankly, I don't get the whole India-Pakistan cricket match/showdown/patriotic fervor stuff anymore. It just doesn't make sense why it's such a big deal. And comments like Malik's stirs up the controversy further.

Suki said...

I don't get it either - primarily because it isn't a great sporting rivalry any more. Nor is Australia-England, by the way. Give me Federer-Nadal, Sampras-Agassi or Schumcher-Hakkinen, maybe Real Madrid-Barcelona any time!

Didn't watch the match - not a sports person any more. But well.. a comment like that, on an international stage, is a shocker. What happened to secularism? Even though Pakistan is not a secular country, can't this particular Muslim respect secularism all over the world?

We really, really need a major change. Wish I knew how to go about it.

the mad momma said...

well these are sportspeople, not diplomats. and i think they have more brawn than brain or tact.

but you are as right as ever. comments like these add to the communal fire... what a moron.

gypsy said...

I completely understand what ur saying..i was also like "WHAT????" when i heard those words yday..infact i was going to google up that speech just to make sure i heard it right!

I am not anti any religion...just anti people who brandish their religion and use it to justify their every action..

i just dont get it!

Sasi Attili said...

Well Said. I wish pathan who spoke after him, said something on behalf of the so called 'non-pakistani' muslims.

Suki said...

PS: In the wake of the Rizwanur-Priyanka murder(?) case... this sort of behaviour stirs up things even worse.

Well... sportsmen weren't meant to be diplomats, until it became a part of their jobs to speak out in front of the world. more blame to us for clamouring for speeches! Can't they just play and be done with it?

Anamika said...

Gypsy and Sasi Attili: welcome to my blog, and thanks for your comments.

I am just glad this got taken up by the media too, rather than getting lost in the overall mayhem of celebrating the World Cup.

As for the India-Pakistan rivalry on the field, someone should seriously study it for a PhD or something, analysing it as a sociological/psychological/national/economic phenomenon!

Diligent Candy said...

This is very well-written and well-thought out...unlike some people who eat, shoot and leaves!

Aunty G said...

My jaw dropped too!

Anamika said...

Candy: Thanks.

Aunty G: I think all people with a MIND would have been shocked at this!