Thursday, November 02, 2006
Excuse the predictable title, but it's just not cricket
Let me first get this off my chest: cricket should remain sancrosanct. At the risk of getting very ra-ra stiff upper lip about this, cricket is a sport that is implicitly gentlemanly (I mean this as impeccable sportsmanship rather than women shouldn't play...honestly). As much as I love it football it is a yobs' sport and the aim of running is to run quicker than everyone else. Cricket is deeper than this. It is the sport you imagine Blofeld would have specialised in at school. You know what I mean? "Oh that Ernest is a real bastard, but he does bowl fearsome chinamen." Or some rakish Tory: "I see the Brigadier has another one up the duff, mind he plays the cover drive like none other"
Cheats should not play cricket. Hansie Cronje? When it came to light that he was taking bets on obtaining results for bookies, my heart sank. This was Hansie. One of the most iconic figures in post-apartheid cricket in South Africa. His premature death was a sad end.
And now we have Shoaib Akhtar, the Rawalpindi Express, the darling (albeit very, very briefly) of world cricket. Remember the days of him and Brett Lee fighting to get up to 100 mph? I have such vivid memories of Akhtar bowling unstoppable yorkers throughout the 1999 World Cup and his 5-21 against Australia with the unlucky 5 to be in the way that day being Messrs Ponting, Waugh and Waugh (Mark and Steve), Gilchrist and Warne. And his epitaph will now read: "Banned for two years for taking drugs" because, aged 32 and plagued by injuries, I don't think we'll see Shoaib again. And that is a shame.
Mohammed Asif? This is the man who did the unthinkable in the recent one-day series against England. To use cricket language (I assure you) he had the wood on Kevin Pietersen. When KP came on, the Pakistanis gave the ball to Asif who obliged by turning him into his bunny. I was well impressed and now this?
I don't want to sound like a killjoy here, but cricket is cricket. It's not like he's been on the spliff or coke, you know the recreationals (see cases in point Messrs Giddins; Wagg and Piper) but performance-enhancing gear akin to God himself, Shane Warne's drug ban in 2003. Asif will return, hopefully stronger for his time in cricketing purgatory.
For an excellent recap (or probably obituary) of Akhtar's career click here.
I always thought that cricket was too prolonged a contest for artificial short-term energy boosts to be worth it.
I am sad at this news...
The Drugs Don't Work ...