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September 24, 2010

Samir Chopra

The summer that went bad

Samir Chopra
Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif leave the team hotel in Taunton for London, Taunton, September 1, 2010
A tour that promised much ended in lawsuits and possible police complaints  © Getty Images
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One of my favourite cartoons shows two couples sitting in a living room, on couches facing each other. The female half of one is saying to her spouse, "What do you mean 'we should get going'? We live here!" Yes, indeed, when guests overstay their welcome, things do get a little prickly.

I'm reminded of this cartoon as Pakistan's tour of England comes to an end. I doubt whether there has been any tour in the recent history of cricket, whose downward trajectory from the giddy heights of Mount FeelGood to Acrimony Canyon has been quite so steep. Like the desperately put-upon hosts in the cartoon above, England must have wanted the tour to end, and soon, even if it meant they would be the ones leaving (possibly to Spain, and not necessarily on a budget flight, to catch the end of the holiday season in Ibiza, where Jimmy Anderson could meet up with his many new friends).

The tour began as a showcase of England's hospitality and Pakistan's desperately-in-need-of-a-showcase cricket. It ended with talk of lawsuits and possible police complaints, and the Pakistani and English captains, both now safely ensconced at home, speaking of the stresses and strains they underwent, during the Summer Horribilis of 2010. No good deed, the English will ruefully note, goes unpunished.

Along the way, we had accusations of match-fixing, undercover stings, epic, unhinged rants by senior administrators, calls for suspending Pakistan (Nasser Hussain and Ian Botham being at least two of the worthies that have made this suggestion) and possible brawls in nets (the similarity to cage-fighting is uncanny, don't you think?). And that was all off the field. Cricket, a staid sport? I think not.

In the midst of these quasi-facetious ramblings, a serious note must be struck. Plenty of damage has been done to cricket. Weeks after the initial allegations of spot-fixing, we are no closer to knowing what, so to speak, went down. A bright and exciting talent like Mohammed Amir in whose praise I penned a paean in these very pages has earned the tag of "cheater." And another cricketing country has been placed in the slot marked "Severely Dysfunctional", rendering speculation about the future of international cricket an even more depressing exercise than before.

My hope in the past, when confronted by a depressing turn of affairs in cricket, has been to hope that a good Test match will show up and take care of everything. I still have faith in that regard, for Australia have landed on Indian shores. And despite the depressing lack of pre-match press-conference sledging from Ricky Ponting, the series promises to deliver some thrills and spills. Of course, there are only two Tests, and they will occur at times that could not possibly be worse for this East Coast resident. Still, I'll take them and hunker down. The alternative is to read more about Pakistani outrage and English counter-outrage. And that option scarcely bears thinking about.

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

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Posted by mark rufus.t on (October 8, 2010, 7:49 GMT)

its a great feeling to see a test match to come so closely n end in the manner it did in mohali . a huge credit is to be given to vvs n zaheer for the match winning performance.but one should not forget the contribution of young ishant without whose contribution indi would have lost ..

Posted by Faheem on (October 6, 2010, 8:05 GMT)

faheem from dubai... pak will bounce back .... amir and asif will make a pair like Ws of 90s and we will start rocking again ... sorry guys but india's good period of last 5/6 years gonna end :) believe me ... they even can't find any good fast bowler who can take 200 wickets and keep playing :) .. their fast bowler remian fast for 2/3 serieses and then bacome seamers :)

Posted by Taimur Khan on (October 5, 2010, 10:00 GMT)

Jai Jai Shiv Shankar...!!! Ala mansoor, lets support cricket not jockey against each other's countries. Nationality is accident of birth but cricket is our passion. We all want to see smith, kallis, ponting & hussy, shoaib, amir, zaheer, styn, anderson, bond, flintoff, the great tendulkar, laxman, dravid, sehwag, gambhir, vettorri, murli etc. in action. All of us remember waugh's grit, hanif and gavaskar's tenacity, inzi's amazing winning record as a batter, viv's class and bradman's unique gifts. All of us remember imran & Sobers, botham, hadlee, kapil, & miller, benaud etc. as special talents we were privellaged to enjoy captains like brearly, lloyd, ian chappel and even jardine have added fascinating chapters to cricket lore. Pakistan cricket has given some of the most exciting games to cricket. does anyone believe they were all fixed games? is there anyone more grieved at apkistan fixing allegations than the shortchanged pakistani fan? Please support us to support cricket!

Posted by Form Script on (October 5, 2010, 9:09 GMT)

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- Laura

Posted by Mohsan Ali on (October 3, 2010, 4:52 GMT)

@ Shankar.... I appreciate that you look at things from the both ends of the spectrum (being in Indian) and that's how it should be. I support pakistan cricket but at the same time I also find Indian cricket to be very interesting. Its just that some countries have their ups and downs and at the moment Pakistan is just in turmoil as a whole, not just the cricket itself.

Posted by Anonymous on (October 2, 2010, 10:08 GMT)

niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeee@ shankar

Posted by Syed Mansoor on (September 29, 2010, 10:02 GMT)

well first of all a special thanks to shankar for understanding our (Pakistan's) position in this situation. look India, south Africa, Srilanka and many other talented nations faced the same allegations in different games. but they as a nation came up and now they are in a new horizon. Pakistan will also come up (inshallah), you just have to support cricket not a nation. Ihsan Mani's era india had a firm support in ICC matters but now as India is in driving seat, we (Pakistani's) hope for the same support as well..

Posted by Shankar Indiancricketfan on (September 28, 2010, 18:18 GMT)

Rachit - Firstly your argument is dwindling between fixing/cheating claims and India's current test cricket rating. You have to come with a coherent argument. I am an avid lover of Pakistan cricket but they are going through a crisis because of poor management. But I see that everyone is trying to feast on them. That happened for decades to India until India became strong and now i see how dare England/Australia put allegations on India for anything which is even true.

Let me refresh your memory - Rachit "bad apple"

Indian captain Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja banned for fixing in 2000. Rahul Dravid banned for tampering in Australia for putting gum substance on the ball - caught on camera. Prahakar banned for fixing when he blew whistle on his team mates who were involved in fixing as well Indian Women Cricket Team Sex and fixing scandals

Posted by Saad Saleem Malik on (September 28, 2010, 8:45 GMT)

i hope the wickets assist the bowlers as well as the batsmen. Test cricket between India and Aussies is always a delight provided the pitch doesn't spoil everything with 800 a side draws

Posted by rachit on (September 28, 2010, 8:07 GMT)

well...for all those pak "fans" (i wud prefer the phase "blind followers"), a flat track draw is anyday prefered to an exciting yet fixed match! u say that all nations against pak...well, not without reason...where else wud u get retirements by the dozen by the same guys (now even shahid is saying he might come back for the tests!!)...where else wud u see a dim witted player (amazingly, now captaining the side) first get caught on camera scruffing the pitch with his spikes...and then (in the biggest LOL moment in sports history) actually BITE into the ball!! there is video recorded evidence of the cheats within ur team. as far as the hostility against india, guys pls look at the rankings since the last 5 yrs...we hv always been in the top 3, and now at 1...has pak touched anything beyond 4 or 5? any reaction/presumption is based on perception...and perception comes from experience...pak has a history of cheats...HENCE its all against one...the one rotten apple

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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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