CRICKET SHOWS DEMONS FROM COLONIAL PAST

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Nov 13 - 19, 2006

ICC stands for International Cricket Council. Not long ago it used to be known as Imperial Cricket Council, which was dominated by its original founding members, whose outlook towards all emerging cricketing nations was largely selective and patronizing at best.

Times have naturally changed but not that original restricted ideas and selective outlook. Long gone are those days of that exclusive club of largely white nations, England, Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia, South Africa and even West Indies all following a policy dictated by the white nations. The whole system seemed to have changed with the emergence of so many non-white cricketing nations and dramatic changes which came in once colonial outposts being transformed as in case of South Africa, Zimbabwe, West Indies along with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, all became full members. However, one has always had a lurking feeling that change in status quo had been superficial and not accepted fully by some cricket establishments at heart.

That feeling had been there for quite some time but none had the courage to challenge it or openly test it out. In other words a mere change of nomenclature from Imperial to International was supposed to be just an illusion one has lived with for so many past years. Even after the policy of rotation under which the management of ICC was passed on to various members this invisible clout of some original members had somehow still been in vogue.

Indians under the powerful Dalmiya only tested it when they felt the heat of apparent conflict of interest and discovered how shallow and unreal the whole facade was. Sri Lanka, too, were able to show that looking the other way simply did not help and were able to show how one can stand up for oneís rights.

In this whole ball game, one saw Pakistan to be the weakest link. Throughout their tenure as full member they had never taken their role seriously except during the time when late skipper Hafeez Kardar was in command. Their offering the top slot of ICC to one chap without any real roots or standing was like the icing on the cake. This incumbent one Ehsan Mani used it for his personal glory and seeking favors like an extension as President. What precisely he did for Pakistan during his long stint, first as a resident representative, various senior assignments and then as the prestigious President, is a big question? He simply allowed an Aussie underling called Malcolm Spade to establish his stranglehold and call all the shots. Just look at the whole edifice of ICC, which is full of Spade favorites except the powerful Chairman of Cricket Committee, Sunil Gavaskar. He too owes his position to Dalmiya and his own vast personal clout as a cricket icon. The result of this whole thing is complete and unholy control of some countries nurturing their own agenda.

That some of the Asian countries have all along been made to suffer and were unable to make hold of their point of view has been abundantly clear. In this helplessness and lack of involvement one must hold a string of former PCB chiefs responsible, who have been nominated under unique system prevailing in Pakistan. If Pakistan have been vigilant enough over the years and not allowed this situation it would have been a different story to tell. Pakistan needed effective and fully involved and responsible incumbents to be heading PCB, and not lame duck Chairman like we had for past few years and even before. The whole system needs to be changed as some cricket stalwarts and other concerned people in the country have been demanding all along. Pakistan for once took the right step to challenge the erratic conduct of umpire Darrel Hair and it proved their long-standing grouse against him was not without substance. They found an overwhelming support from majority of ICC members to result in the disgrace and ouster of Hair from the elite panel. But what is more that this action has finally ripped open the facade of ICC and its inner mafia.

The reaction of Malcolm Spade within the ICC meeting to make a desperate bid to save Hair failed along with his deputy Richardson. Now comes the latest with James Sutherland, the CEO of Cricket Australia seeking explanation from ICC on the matter and showing annoyance over the above action. This reaction and the news of similar views of England cricket officials have exposed the bogey of this so-called "White Supremacy" club. Do you need any other proof of this racial policies and thinking of these fossils from the colonial past? Their views are a slap on the face of majority who found that Hairís conduct and decisions were untenable. It is time that the whole issue is understood and the game of cricket is rid of its demons from the despicable colonial past.