So much for the famed Indian hospitality! A baying mob overruns the BCCI offices in Mumbai to protest the presence of Pakistan’s cricket chief; threats are unveiled against Aleem Dar; Pakistani fast bowling icons Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar are advised to leave India for their security; even the South Africans are under a bit of bother in Gujarat as a pseudo curfew is imposed in the city of Rajkot and mobile and internet services are blocked.
Yet the ICC shows no teeth, just a mere showing of concern at what is happening. It is clearly a lamb in front of the Indian tiger. If this had been Pakistan, no umpire would have been pulled out, but the series could have been cancelled and players flown out.
The late former England captain Mike Denness was removed as referee in a Test in South Africa after India refused to play following Denness’ accusation that Sachin Tendulkar had doctored the ball. Sachin accused of a wrong! How dare he!
Later, in Australia, Steve Buckner’s career was prematurely ended when the Indians felt he had given a couple of decisions that went against the Indians. He was removed midway through the series and sent packing. When the Pakistanis protested at the posting of umpire Hair for a series saying he had past record of being biased against Pakistan, they were told to play or else.
And all this when the Big Three was years from conception. Now the Indian Narayanaswami Srinivasan cannot sit on his own cricket board because of suspicions of involvement in match fixing but chairs the ICC where the countries that pride themselves on high moral values and integrity, England and Australia, make no move to ask him to resign. And there have been yet no calls for the World Twenty20 in March 2016 to be shifted from India. It is the silence of the lambs.
It is clear now that India is in the grip of extremism and it is beginning to hurt sport. But then it was becoming increasingly clear that India was not interested in playing the series against Pakistan. Why then did it invite the PCB officials to Mumbai, and in such a riotous environment and of all places in Mumbai? It was aware of what Shiv Sena had done to the Indian promoter of Khurshid Kasuri’s book. Did it not anticipate at least a similar protest when Shahryar Khan and Najam Sethi would be stepping into the city ruled by that extremist organisation?
I have a feeling they did and led the PCB officials into this scenario. The TV footage showed that the guards were few and the numbers of protestors not that large. But the footage also shows that a couple of the guards opened the gate, talked to the crowd and then meekly stepped aside. Why wasn’t there paramilitary force present when such a high security guest was supposed to come?
But why would the BCCI do that? I think it was simply because the Indian government wanted to show the level of discontent the Indian public supposedly has with Pakistan. And to humiliate a couple of high-ranking Pakistanis. Otherwise, why invite them to Mumbai instead of holding a meeting at Delhi or even Dubai if they were serious!
When the meeting was eventually shifted to Delhi, Shaharyar met IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla who later announced that everything under the sky had been discussed except cricket! So what was the purpose of the meeting? No wonder Shaharyar said he was disappointed by BCCI. But then he was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If he hadn’t accepted the invitation the BCCI would have said the onus of the series not happening lay with PCB. And when he did go, well we saw the result.
On top of that BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur has spread the word that Asia Cup is planned to be held in February next year which is when the PSL is to be staged. Surely another mischievous move although nothing should come of it because Pakistan will simply refuse and I doubt the tournament will have any worth without Pakistan. But you can expect BCCI to fund the deficit just to spite the PCB and Pakistan.
The Indians have been hypocritical as expected. They ascribe this to a few extremists although when Pakistan does the same they blame the whole nation and the ISI. If the Indian government cannot stop a few of its citizens from storming into the BCCI office, does it not show that it is weaker than those few?
The talks scheduled between PCB and BCCI were cancelled following the threats hurled by those few in the BCCI office. So are the Indians that scared of unarmed rioters?
Where was their government apologising? In fact, where was their government at all?
The most anyone heard was a tweet by Harsha Bhogle and that too was tacitly aimed at clarifying that Indians are great people.
His tweet read: “I have had the privilege of knowing @wasimakramlive very well. I wish people could see the enormous love & respect he has received in India”. Quite funny really. Where is the condemnation of Shiv Sena? In fact, where has been the condemnation of Shiv Sena by the former Pakistani cricketers who commentate in India or by BCCI?
It’s quite clear that Hindutva is fast taking over India and most Indians are scared of speaking out against it. Unfortunately cricket is one of the first casualties.