Vantage point

Friday, January 23, 2004

The news that Wasim Akram has played a major part in the development of Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra shows narrow-minded individuals on both sides of the Radcliffe line is the poor light that they deserve.

I would like to hear what Thackeray has to say about this. Particularly Thackeray, because his opposition to cricket with Pakistan is based on his contention that - "they treat it as jihad". This gesture by Akram shows that you can not just brand a person based on his nationality and religion. OK, Imran might have said something to that effect, but it does not mean we should paint all the cricketers with a thick brush. There are many examples of cricketers from pakistan helping out other cricketers, regardless of their religion. Zaheer Abbas' suggestions to Desilva were what made him one of the best batsmen in the world at that point of time. Abdul Qadir gave suggestions to Kumble and Warne during a tournament in Sri lanka some years back. Akram is another example.

In fact Akram has been one of the most popular cricketers in India. He is universally regarded as one of the, if not THE best bowler that my generation has seen. In this era, where Australia lead the cricketing world to a more rude phase, Akram has always been a gentleman. One doesn't remember him shooting his mouth off in the press, neither has he been seen crossing the line in sledging. He has always conducted himself with diginity. I still remember the sincerity with which he congratulated Anil Kumble when the later took 10 wickets in an innings against his team. Contrast this with Saeed Anwar who kept cribbing about "the ball the ball why did they change the ball" when India pulled off a sensational win in Karachi.

The reaction of certain sections of the Pakistani public is disappointing to say the least. One person even filed a PIL against Akram for "helping the enemy". Such cross-assistance keeps happening in cricket. By thinking that Akram is helping the enemy, those people are substantiating the noise that Shivsena makes.

It is a sport. Play it like a sport.