Readers September 29, 2007

Comment of the week: A pundit from Pakistan

How a reader's comments can be constructive, expressive and delightful
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Furqan mailed in two comments on the Scenes from a Final post which are near-perfect examples of a) how disagreement on a blog can be firmly and civilly expressed and b) how a great contest ought to be celebrated. This is part of the first one:

"I was personally quite disappointed with Mukul's article. Yes, it was wonderfully written, factually accurate and it conveyed some excellent arguments. However, as his first post after the spectacular end to a fantastic final, I thought it was rather sour to focus half of the article on Shoaib Malik's crass comments. There were so many positives from this tournament, none more so than the excellent final, and after the turmoil that has affected cricket over this year I think it would have been far more apt to express gratitude and praise for the recovery of the game. I think any reasonable person can conclude that Malik's comments were in bad taste. I'm a Muslim in Pakistan and they certainly made me wince. However I think a paragraph expressing distate for the comments would have sufficed, rather than the torrent of negativity shown by Mukul and in numerous comments since..."

And in a second comment, he shows us, with joy and passion, how the thing is done:

"Oh, and after my previous post about what Malik said, I would just like to say that I enjoyed this tournament, and especially the final thoroughly. I absolutely loved how after being written off by so many journalists, especially in England (Hello Jonathan Agnew, whatever happened to your English team winning the World Twenty20), it was Pakistan and India that were by far the two best teams of the tournament. Pakistan won every match, except the two against India, very convincingly. India won match after match under extreme pressure in knock-out conditions. Together, we beat England, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and above all, we both beat Australia - comfortably! A match that looked like Pakistan's bowlers were all over, turned around with some fantastic batting by the underrated Gautam Ghambir, decent bowling by [Irfan] Pathan and RP Singh (or 'Rudra the smiling assassin', as we like to call him in our house) and some long overdue pressure-induced poor shots from the top and middle-order Pakistani batsmen. With 54 runs needed of four overs, only 22 having come off the last four overs and only one batsman left, the match looked all over and it seemed like the tournament would fizzle out into 24 balls of anti-climactic cricket. But old man Misbah-ul-Haq, Mr Calm-Until-Only-One-More-Shot-Is-Required ul-Haq, changed the course of the match once again. The Pakistani fans (well, speaking for myself) had hope again, and the Indian fans watched anxiously as the runs required started to get lower and lower with the balls required not going down anywhere near as much. Then when Joginder-Look-Like-A-Rabbit-In-The-Headlights Sharma took centre stage, bowled a big wide and got wallopped for a Misbah special, it looked like there would only be one winner. Jogi bowled again, Misbah crouched down and we all knew what was coming. The Ashraful scoop duly appeared, the ball went up into the air past [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni and millions, nay billions perhaps held their breath. There it was, the ball in the air and the crowd in the background. Is it clearing the rope, have Pakistan won this? Oh yes...oh no, the ball is coming down and it doesn't look like it's going to clear the boundary - a four perhaps, I'll take that!.. oh no, it's not even going that far...oh no, there's a fielder under it, it's Sreesanth, it's out. Pakistan have lost, India have won! Gutted, we were so close but my God what a match! Look world, forget that last World Cup, now this is cricket, this is entertainment! Look at those Indians, wild with jubilation and ecstatic with happiness, look at those Pakistanis, shocked and distraught, look at Misbah, who will be re-playing that shot in his dreams for the rest of his life. What an amazing start to the tournament. Chris Gayle, you finally woke up for an hour and that was out of this world. What fantastic cricket throughout the tournament. Yuvraj Singh, you can forget about that crazed Dimiti Mascarenhas belting you for sixes forever now. What an unbelievable ending, Sreesanth, you must have been shaking like jelly but the ball ended up safely in your hands and how good must you have felt. Shoaib Malik's comments? They were just that, comments. I love cricket. And my God, that was cricket, that was entertainment, that was life."

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanedlive on October 10, 2007, 12:53 GMT

    for all those people who think religion comes before others,this is professional cricket played at international level under the banner of nations. so religion obviously dont come before cricket.

  • fanedlive on October 10, 2007, 10:32 GMT

    Well said.

  • fanedlive on October 5, 2007, 0:23 GMT

    Hi Mukul,

    You have maneged to create a ruckus!!Personally I am not in agreement with what Shoaib Malik said but my opinion is not based on religious grounds but on what we know as political correctness.There is nothing wrong in being a demonstrative Muslim but it was not the proper platform to do so. But then it is not his fault entirely or may be it is not afterall a really big mistake.May be the PCB should educate its players as to what is to be said when and where. In the beginning I myself was shocked at what he said but later I reconciled myself with the fact that thanking their co-reliogionists is a part of muslim way of life and that it should be respected. The platform was not right.He should have considered that he was on an international stage and that Indian team had 2 muslims in its team.I think a simple thanks of Allah would have been sufficient. Just imagine had India lost and either of Pathan brothers would have fared badly how could have his statement been misconstrued against either of the Pathan brothers.

    However Mukul, by writing a totally new article on a 10 day old issue you have again stirred a hornet's nest which in my opinion is not correct.

    Please give Shoaib Malik a break.

    Faraz and Andy Singh to both of you: Your comments are in bad taste and smack of arrogance as well as ignorance. No decent and intelligent person would make comments like "programmed" and "brainwashed" on religious grounds in a cricket forum.

    To all my Pakistani friends and to my Indians co-nationals these things happen. They are part of our culture and upbringing. Just take a chill pill and relax. Enough river has flown under the bridge since the 20-20 finals and our respective teams are back at doing what they are very consistent in doing- being highly inconsistent. Aussies are gonna thrash India and RSA is going to knock out Pakistan. Getting a sense of deja-vu. Hope I am wrong.

    Mukul : Why don't you write a comment on Irfan Khan saying Mashallah as Zishan Iqbal pointed out. I am in agreement with hi. Or are you afraid that writing such an article will get you condemned a Hindutva supporter ?

    Regards.

    Ruchit.

  • fanedlive on October 2, 2007, 14:24 GMT

    I feel really sorry for Shoaib Malik. ALready he must have been feeling bad enough for having lost a match that he must have won rather easily. On top of that, there was another presumptuos commentator asking him a question in English. I think, Shoaib had made up his mind even before the first question was asked, that he would apologise to Pakistani fans. Perhaps, with another home series following immediately after the T20 World Cup, he did not want too much as a backlash. It is also well known that the Pakistani team has always been overtly religious since Wasim Akram ceased to be captain. Added to that, people outside Pakistan may not be able to appreciate the genuine dangers that surround being the captain of the Pakistan cricket team. All these factors make me beleive that Shoaib's only intention was to apologise to the fans and assure them that the better team had won. I am also pretty sure that Malik is much better read than say an Inzamam or a Younis Khan. So he must surely be aware of the difference between Pakistani and Muslim. They are certainly not synonymous and will never be. Pakistan probably needs a good media manager to avoid these type of issues in future. To me, that Media manager's role will first be to ensure that in a match involving Pakistan, the presenter must ensure that he asks questions in Urdu. This is not difficult because no match involving Pakistan is played these days without the involvement of some ex-Pakistani cricketer in the commentary team. I am quite sure that had Shoaib himself chosen to speak in Urdu, then his answer would have been very different. I think people like Mukul Kesavan who ceratinly would have followed much more of the game - albeit from a perspective-giving distance - would know that Pakistani cricketers are not the most eloquent speakers. It is therefore quite diasappointing that Mukul has chosen to make this into a topic - not just once, but yet again. I agree that by making Furqan's comments the center-piece of the blog, he has probably attempted to correct his earlier mistake. But it has only backfired. There will always be readers and beleivers like Faraz who choose to make religion their favourite, all-encompassing topic of discussion. It will be good for all of us if we pray that his kind are in a minority. Religion is a very private matter and best practiced as a message between one and the almighty. Whenever it has been publicly discussed, it has stoked passions of the wrong kind and led to endless misery. I hope Mukul will let this matter to rest by posting a new discussion - which we all woudl love to comment on.

  • fanedlive on October 2, 2007, 13:43 GMT

    To Anthony who mentioned what Symonds said "I've been watching how India has been carrying on over the last few days".

    You're not alone. I'm an India fan, I like a good game of cricket and enjoyed the way our youngsters performed. But I did not like their petty chest-beating afterwards. I'm also quite shocked that no Indian player went to console a devastated Misbah-ul-Haq as he stuck around the field for minutes after playing that scoop shot. Eventually an umpire had to get him to his feet.

    Great display by the young Indian cricketers but their attitude afterwards has left a bad after-taste.

  • fanedlive on October 2, 2007, 8:26 GMT

    naresh - of course i accept india as a country! in fact i like india! not at all sure what you mean, perhaps you didn't understand the thrust of my argument (and that is entirely your problem).

    how smug you all are under the banner of nationalism where you have to put being "indian" first over anything else, including personal freedom. that's not freedom is it? that's not tolerance is it? let people be free to support whichever team they want to support, whether it's west indies, england, india or pakistan, irrespective of whether they were born in that country. and let them support these teams for whatever reason they want, including religion!

    i presume that you guys think english people in britain, whose parents or grandparents are indian, should support england in cricket, right, given that they have to put their country first? when india play in england you can see on tv that the grounds are always full of "british indians" -but britain allows these ppl to support india, even though they are english. it doesn't insist they be english first and indian second. it's clearly a more tolerant society than india is.

  • fanedlive on October 2, 2007, 1:34 GMT

    Issues like this turns a match from one set of fans to religion vs religion. To top it off he takes a leap of faith that all the muslims in India support him. Like someone pointed out that Indian muslims are self reliant and they dont need any pity. They I know for sure were not supporting them especially this generation. They have as much right on Indian team as any hindu. I think it is time to move on.

  • fanedlive on October 1, 2007, 20:27 GMT

    I think the using of the word "Muslim" by Shoaib to relate to his team's fans in his comments is what is worng. Religion has nothing to do with sports. World over in any given sport people only talk about a fan of a team (here in this case it is Pakistan's cricket team) and never a team is associated with religion or vice versa.

  • fanedlive on October 1, 2007, 18:03 GMT

    I am an indian muslim and not for one moment did i want pakistan to win. when india won, i along with the scores of indians in the restaurant broke out in wild cheers. So if malik thinks muslims all over the world supported his team, then he is way off base. I know this is a free world and anyone has a right to express his own views. But with recognition comes a responsibility to behave in a responsible way. Teams in any sport play under the banner of one's country and not under the flag of any religion.The world was divided in the middle ages on the basis of religion.Muslims in asia and africa and christians in europe.We have come a long way from there and comments like those arent meant for the present age. What i want to put across is the danger of the game degenerating into a clash between religions, if such comments are allowed to continue. Now imagine Dhoni walking over to the presentation ceremony and announcing that this victory was a victory for hindus throughout the world and Ricky ponting announcing that their victory was for the christians. If i could say in one word - it would be horrible. Shoaib's a young captain and i know he wasnt thinking clearly when he said that, but what angers me most is people who like to believe that it isnt a big issue. We already have enough troubles, with being divided as different nations. Lets not increase the troubles by dividing people across natons by religion.

  • fanedlive on October 1, 2007, 16:34 GMT

    Ismail Jani- well said. Boom boom Afridi - perhaps you still don't accept India (and that fact isentirely your problem).

    RickGore - and what did you POMs do when you won the Ashes?

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