29 January 2010

The Great Snub

Please read the transcript (here) of Andy Zaltzman’s podcast on the IPL auction and his description of the selection of ‘horses’ for the particular course that is the IPL.

Much ink has flowed in the Indian, Pakistani and international media over the non-selection of a single world champion Pakistani cricketer by any of the franchisees and as seems typical for a reaction on anything slightly controversial in cricket, the reactions range from passive (including in the Pakistani publication, the Dawn) to outright fanatical (pretty much everything else in the Pakistani media). Should Pakistan somehow manage to win a single one-day game (or god forbid, the T-20 match against Australia), it seems certain that journalists and bloggers across the world will have a lot more fire to breathe and venom to spew on Pakistan’s ability as a limited overs side, and I want to jump on to this bandwagon too!

Personally, I believe that justice has been done. The very unofficial embargo on the franchisees selecting Pakistani cricketers is somewhat like the West imposing economic sanctions on Iraq. It is a political snub, it is invariably backed by the government (despite what Mr. Modi and Mr. Krishna might say), it is very symbolic of the history of evolution where might is indeed right and it is occasioned by the aggressive intent of the other.

As far as cricket is concerned, while it would have been nice to see some of the Pakistani cricketers in the various line-ups, I for one cannot imagine anyone saying ‘but if only Afridi/Aamer/Gul was here’. When the IPL juggernaut begins to roll again, most of the audience outside Pakistan is going to forget this ‘snub’ and enjoy the cricket like they have over the past 2 seasons. Viewership may draw in Pakistan to begin with, but it is almost certain that as the season moves into its closing stages, all of the cricket addicts will come running back to the broadcasters for their shot of adrenalin fuelled excitement.

In so far as politics goes, there may have been a more elegant ways to extend this ‘snub’, but sometimes the brutal political lesson is more effective than the diplomatic sugar quoted one (after 50 years of trying diplomacy, I am certain that a lot of my countrymen would agree). Generally, I would say that politics and sports do not mix well, but in this particular instance, especially after the attacks on Mumbai and the Indian parliament, I am more than willing to make an exception. For those who disagree, let me ask you this – would you do business with your enemy (perceived or real) if at that very same time that person was trying his best to destabilize your daily existence??

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