Pakistan November 2, 2011

The curse of Premier League football

The youth of Pakistan are moving away from cricket

Friday, 28th October His Buttiness has gone, but the effects of Buttism linger. Pakistan’s cricketers are currently playing a home series 1200 miles away from home and cricket fans in Pakistan haven’t been able to watch their team play live for two and half years. Thanks to Ijaz’s patented formula for administration (Crisis x Incompetence = Disaster²) who knows how many have given up on the sport altogether?

And since the globalised sports marketplace deplores a vacuum, it appears that the imaginations of Pakistani youth are being seduced by, of all things, Premier League football. Quite why anyone in Pakistan would want to watch a bunch of overrated, overpaid, whining hooligans play-acting, spitting and kicking at each other is beyond me, particularly when they can already get that on the Parliament Channel.

But it seems that the doings of Terry, Torres and Suarez are of increasing interest to the citizens of Pakistan and so now Manchester United are supplying “exclusive” content to their mobile phones. Just imagine that. As well as being able to see Wayne Rooney swearing in slow-mo on your television, you can now take the foul-mouthed moron with you on the train, to the dentist or visiting your grandmother.

Never mind inviting Imran round for tea and gossip, Mr Ashraf, your No. 1 priority should be bringing back international cricket. Do you want the next generation to grow up wearing Chelsea shirts, throwing themselves to the ground Drogba style every time the wind blows or celebrating their exam results by lifting their shirts over their heads and running around like loonies?

No, neither do I. So pull your finger out.

Sunday, 30th October What is it with the modern cricketer? They get piles of cash, a tempting selection of essential oils in the massage room and all the official tracksuits they can stuff into their suitcase. And then when they’re too old to bend down at first slip, they can retire to the commentary booth, where they will be handsomely remunerated without having to voice an original opinion for the next 30 years.

So why are they so angry all the time?

England’s mini-break to India has been the last word in grouch; a touring exhibition of grumpiness that featured more hissy fits than the opening night at the Paris Fashion Show and finally ended yesterday, with KP performing the now traditional spitting out of the dummy. And it’s not just the English. Today, Tamim Iqbal was in trouble for sledging Marlon Samuels; not a sentence I ever thought I’d have to write.

Now we all like the odd bit of misbehaviour, providing it’s good enough to one day feature in a book of cricket anecdotes. But not all the time. These days sledging and acting out isn’t the result of an entertaining and spontaneous psychotic episode, it’s a tactic, a routine part of the game. I imagine Jonathan Trott randomly swears at elderly ladies in the street, just to keep his verbal abuse reflexes honed.

And the result is so boring. Bowler follows through and glares at batsman. Batsman reminds him he hasn’t taken a wicket yet. Bowler swears at non-striker. Non-striker sticks his tongue out at bowler. Mid-off criticises non-striker’s girlfriend’s choice of curtain-fabric. Non-striker demands mid-off takes that back or he’ll be forced to tell him what he really thinks of his hairstyle. Umpire sighs. Repeat ad nauseam.

Coaches clearly believe it works. Maybe it does. Perhaps the sheer mind-numbing banality of it all eventually causes batsmen to flip and do anything to get out of there. (I find the same thing happens if I’m forced to watch two consecutive episodes of iCarly.) But is that really what we want our game to look like? Are we expecting kids to see these tantrum-throwing sledgers as heroes? Is that what cricket is about?

So I have a suggestion. Since fining the players doesn’t seem work, let’s fine the coaches. A day’s salary for every swear word, a week for every sledge that doesn’t make us laugh and 100 lines every time Craig Kieswetter opens his mouth.

That ought to do the trick.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 6, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    While I agree that football is slowly replacing cricket in Pakistan, I also feel you shouldn't have insulted football like that. I'm not a football fan - I'd only watch it if there was nothing else on TV - but I feel every sport should be respected. And i didn't like the slight on Salman Butt. I agree he made a mistake and got what he deserved, but let it go. There's no need to poke fun at his name. It can't be a good feeling to know people are waving your mistake about every chance they get. That said, this article was otherwise good and very entertaining. My favorite line was "I imagine Jonathan Trott randomly swears at elderly ladies in the street, just to keep his verbal abuse reflexes honed." I can just imagine that happening. :)

  • testli5504537 on November 3, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Unfunny, because football is so much better an option than cricket, at least on any day that saw the sun rise in the east. In fact, the only good thing to have happened to cricket-the aggressive 'foul-mouthedness' of the Aussie side-is the only the thing that the two games have in common; and thank god for that. PS: I'm a fan otherwise, you're hilarious.

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 22:33 GMT

    funny article but also very worrying about cricket in Pakistan! Pakistan use to be kown was the factor for fast bowlers and good test batsmans but all that seems to be going away! Even though they beat Ski Lanka, and seem to have found a good bowling line, it's still very nervousing for Pakistani fans!

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 18:25 GMT

    x( man why are you targeting football, its an awesome game. no one is denying Cricket by Football is also cool. try to appreciate all the good stuff

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 16:50 GMT

    His Buttiness has gone... So pull your finger out...haha, brilliant start and end! A complete coverage of EPL....haha, Love reading long handle!

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    ur not honestly suggesting that cricket is a sport that is better, in any way or form, than football. I have been watching both sports all my life, and i cannot for the life of me see why one would select cricket over football. You go about discrediting football played by a bunch of 'hooligans' when you forget the slap delivered by Harbajan to Sreesanth? the racist abuse suffered by Symonds? And to cap it all watching court cases of the disgraced players publicised daily on TV further disgrace the 'sport'. I can safely say that this would not happen in football. Nah, thanks mate, I prefer sticking to football.

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 16:04 GMT is absolutely right about the EPL & La Liga,they are effecting a great influence on the youths of pakistan,they are diverting towards football & if cricket doesn't comes back to pakistan then football will & future of cricket in pakistan will be very dark. Usama Jadoon, Pakistan.

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    dear mr hughes, i m from pakistan. but i cant understand your football language at all. please try to write in terms of cricket, especially about pakistan.....

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 15:11 GMT

    why i cant sign in. whenever i try to click comments or feedback tab , i get internet explorer cannot display the me please.....

  • testli5504537 on November 2, 2011, 15:01 GMT

    Wow, Andrew! You sound so ticked when you wrote the 28th October article. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, do something before you start writing, buddy!

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