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March 10, 2010

Samir Chopra

Should any 'family' be this tolerant?

Samir Chopra

Pakistan cricket has plunged into yet another crisis, and it calls for a different reaction from outsiders. © Associated Press

Apparently, there is some drama in the world of Pakistani cricket. The headlines are sensational, and the outraged reaction even more so. But really, is this even mildly interesting? All the banned players will be back soon enough and Pakistan cricket will go on the way as it did before: dysfunctional in the extreme.

There is a way of describing Pakistani cricket, which used to be tiresome but which has now started to strike me as patently offensive. This is the insistence that Pakistani cricket is charmingly erratic, wonderfully unpredictable, beautifully inconsistent, sublimely indisciplined. Right, I'm making these up. But you see the pattern. Pair a couple of adjectives which span the spectrum from the sublime to the sordid and have a go at describing Pakistani cricket. And I suspect the world of Pakistani cricket revels in this description, because this sort of indulgent tolerance gives it a free pass.

A common feature of the calls for a display of solidarity with the Pakistani cricket world in its "time of need" is the invocation of "family" and "fraternity". I find that a bit over the top, but let's stay with it for a second. If we are going to invoke the family trope, then let's go the whole hog. What kind of family member is Pakistan then? Your lovely talented nephew who can't behave himself? Your incapable-of-good-manners little sister? What does it take for the family to say "Enough is enough"? (I don't know what "enough is enough" amounts to in the cricket case but at the very least it should be an end of the amused indulgence of Pakistani dysfunction, whether it is within the team or between the board and the team).

Pakistani cricket has been lurching from disaster to disaster for a very long time, marked by endemic indiscipline and a stunning lack of professionalism in all too many fronts. From Inzamam-ul-Haq's assault on a spectator, to the many player-captain disputes, to Test-match forfeits, to the doping scandals, to the failure of security. Yet, the worldwide perception of it as, you guessed it, charmingly erratic, persists. And the clarion calls for solidarity to support, shoulder-to-shoulder, whatever latest species of misbehaviour it throws at us never cease. Where one would demand introspection and self-correction, we are asked to look for failures elsewhere: umpiring conspiracies, non-cooperative neighbour boards, ignorant, racist, paranoia about safety, the list goes on.

We could all do with a little tough love. The continued winking at the indiscipline that pervades both the PCB and its team is part of the problem that affects Pakistani cricket. Crises of behaviour among members of a group demand introspection and change from all members of the group. The first step for outsiders (the Pakistanis have their own work to do) would be to ask themselves what role their constant indulgence of the foibles of Pakistani cricket has played in its random walk down Indiscipline Street.

To read a reader's response to this blog, click here

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

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Posted by Sanjay Bodduluri on (August 31, 2010, 4:46 GMT)

Well of course Samir you did create a point out of Pakistan's pain.Agreed that there is more dismal show on offer currently from Pakistan, but at numerous times, we saw numerous players from all cricket playing nations do the cheating act. No one nation can distance itself from the acts of shame in every sport.

Professionalism is not about highlighting the plight of others or imposing our thoughts on how it should be corrected. Pakistan also produced several world class players and definitely the best fast bowling pairs that no cricketing nation has ever been able to produce. I am an Indian and I am proud of our players their attitudes and versatal and their sporting ability and equally proud of Pakistani players. When we judge people, look at their backgrounds, socio economic conditions, their understanding of professionalism and standards and their state of political regime. Pakistan though is unfortunately confronted by problems, but second only to India for that matter.

Posted by Cricsavvy on (August 31, 2010, 0:34 GMT)

Pak Cricket is a TOTAL DISGRACE. No argument will erase this fact.

Posted by Nasser on (August 30, 2010, 18:56 GMT)

Great article by Samir - all correct and nothing unusual. Pak cricket reflects the true Pakistani culture as reflected by the many response from so-called Pakistani supporters, who are too coward to accept their national faults and are hence far too incompetent to take any corrective action. The Pakistani psyche is to cheat, take undue advantage of anyone weaker, not use rationale, not do the right thing etc. Pakistan may not be the only nation like this but as a Pakistani, I am, at this moment, thinking of what is wrong with Pakistan, and what we can do to correct our wrongs. May Allah guide us. Thank you Samir, once again, for saying it as it is.

Posted by Nasser on (August 30, 2010, 18:55 GMT)

Great article by Samir - all correct and nothing unusual. Pak cricket reflects the true Pakistani culture as reflected by the many response from so-called Pakistani supporters, who are too coward to accept their national faults and are hence far too incompetent to take any corrective action. The Pakistani psyche is to cheat, take undue advantage of anyone weaker, not use rationale, not do the right thing etc. Pakistan may not be the only nation like this but as a Pakistani, I am, at this moment, thinking of what is wrong with Pakistan, and what we can do to correct our wrongs. May Allah guide us. Thank you Samir, once again, for saying it as it is.

Posted by Merri on (August 30, 2010, 15:48 GMT)

While I don't agree with some Pakistani contributors' attempts at rejecting all faults on the whole World around (if there are so many incidents involving Pakistani players, there must be something about them, if only their unability to manage conflict-laden situations), I must admit that there is something rotten outside Pakistan. Perhaps that's naive, but if I were a bookie -internet-based or other- who just lost zillions to a guy who bet that there would be two no-balls in over n° X, I would cease offering such betting possibilities. Such pinpoint bets are so much sensible to single-person actions. I don't claim that they should be prohibited, only that, knowing where there interests lie, the bookies should have discontinued them spontaneously. So, how come that they still exist ?

Posted by Anonymous on (August 30, 2010, 10:45 GMT)

Mr. chopra what a gleaming display of an indian ideology... I fail to understand how a person can point a finger on others when there is so much going on in his "Much-loved" country.

Who was Lalit Modi???? Do u even knw what led to introduction of neutral umpires in the field of cricket?? What abt symond and harbhajan??? What abt Harbhajan and sreesanth??? n above all everyone knws which country is richest when it comes to bookmakers...

What are you trying to prove????

Posted by sumaira on (August 30, 2010, 10:25 GMT)

brilliantly written, i too find it offensive that pakistan is always described as unpredictable, this has allowed them to get away with alot more than they should have. Unfortunately, in a country where corruption is rife, i dont see how any of this will be solved. We saw the match fixing crisis once before, and all the players came back to play for pakistan with only 2 exceptions.

Posted by salman on (August 30, 2010, 9:19 GMT)

To anand venkat.. Mr ANand in South Africa indian team was caught tampering...against Aussie u remember the row about monkey callin.. do u remmebr jelly bean inccident do u remmebr jadeja ban do u remeber azhruddin ban do u remember ur gr8 prabhakar claimed that ur cricketer of the century Kapil dev offfered him bribe to under perfrom.. Do u remember ur inccident between ganguly and chappel.. Do u remmber incident of Lalit modi and IPL Fiasco..so India is the root cause of fixing every body knows it who is at the centre stage of match fixing

Posted by salman on (August 30, 2010, 9:10 GMT)

Samir my friend..if it is about fixing..India has to be blamed..they have the bookie's networks which is causing havoc in cricket

Posted by ahmed khan on (August 30, 2010, 7:18 GMT)

What about Bhaji slapping a fellow player on the ground? What about Yuvi showing figer to the crowd in srilanka? what about jadeja/azharudding involved in match fixing? The whole world is cursing why they have given Commonwealth games to this country and as it is marred by one of the worst corruptions of all time?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samir Chopra
Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He runs the blogs at samirchopra.com and Eye on Cricket. His book on the changing face of modern cricket, Brave New Pitch: The Evolution of Modern Cricket has been published by HarperCollins. Before The Cordon, he blogged on The Pitch and Different Strokes on ESPNcricinfo. @EyeonthePitch

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