Mike Ghouse, September 25, 2007
Sachin Tendulkar, the Master Cricketer is liked by one and all, whoever understands and loves cricket loves him. He is simply the best that there is and a legend to emulate for generations to come. His religion does not matter to any one, his play does.
Shoaib Malik, Captain of Pakistan Cricket team has all the potentials to be one of the best on the field, and he is equally liked by all. However he has annoyed many a Cricket fans by singling out his fans, rather shamelessly.
He should have thanked the people of Pakistan for getting him up there that is the norm for any player to thank his nation. However thanking Muslims of the world is dead wrong for many reasons, three among them:
1) By appreciating his fans on the basis of religion is wrong. That simply excludes all other fans who are not Muslims. That is not sportsmanship.
2) Most of the Muslims around the world may not even know Cricket, let alone him.
3) Like all other Cricket fans of India or the world, he may be appreciated by Indian Muslims also for his skills, but they are no fan of him when they have their own national team they cherish and support.
I lost respect for yet another Cricketer, former skipper of India ’s team Azharuddin. He was corrupt and got caught, instead of being ashamed of his own acts; he claimed he was singled out because he was a Muslim. That is a total abuse of one’s religion to earn sympathies; he did not get any from Muslims or others.
The act of Shoaib Malik is his own and he should bear responsibility for that. Cricket and Religion don’t go together. We ask all the Cricketers to play a good game, they can thank God and their nation for it, but they should never exclude any fan from appreciation.
Former President, North Texas Cricket Association
Winner of the Best Cricket Development program in the Americas by MCC.
Don't mix Cricket with religion, urge fans
25 Sep 2007, 2122 hrs IST , TNN
New Delhi : For millions of fans around the world, and India in particular, cricket itself is a religion -- the Twenty20 version being the latest denomination.
So when Pakistani cricket team’s skipper Shoaib Malik brought a communal hue to the gentleman’s game with a gratuitous thanks to Muslims all over the world, ostensibly for supporting Pakistan, the blowback on the blogosphere was swift.
The first reaction came from Pakistanis themselves. "How about Hindu and Christian Pakistanis in the US, Canada, and Gulf who supported the Pakistan cricket team? Don’t we count?" wrote "ChristianPak" on the blog Pakistaniat.com .
Others thought the remark was thoughtless and gratuitous considering the Pakistan team itself has had a token representation of a couple of Hindus and a Christian in the past.
It also does not sit well with Pakistan's current attempt, arguably feeble, to present a face of "enlightened moderation" prescribed by its military ruler Pervez Musharraf.
But what rankled many Indians was Malik's attempt to own worldwide Muslim sentiment for Pakistan when India has as many Muslims who support their home team, which has always had a healthy representation of Muslims and other minorities and has been a showcase for India's secular society.
The same holds true of Sri Lanka and England, whose teams are also multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and secular.
While the charitable explanation for Malik's remarks was that he was trying to pre-empt an Islamist backlash at home and did so with poor command of English, the general feeling was he unwittingly revealed the growing radicalisation of the Pakistani cricket team, consonant with Pakistan’s own slide into fundamentalism.
The issue most recently came to the fore during the World Cup in the Caribbean when the mysterious death of Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer was linked to his disquiet over the radicalisation of the team and overt expression of religion in team meetings.
"The problem here isn't the syntax, it is the sentiment. I don't expect Shoaib Malik to be a politically correct intellectual, but it is reasonable to expect him to know the world of cricket that he inhabits," cricket historian Mukul Keshavan observed on his blog, pointing out that it is a world where Muslims, Hindus and a Sikh currently play for England, where Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and a Hindu play for Sri Lanka, where Hashim Amla turns out for South Africa, where a Patel plays for New Zealand, where Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus play (and have always played) for India.
"Why would Shoaib think, then, that the Muslims of the world were collectively rooting for the Pakistan team or that they felt let down by its defeat? Did he stop to think of how Danish Kaneria, his Hindu team-mate, might feel hearing his Test skipper all but declare that the Pakistan team is a Muslim team that plays for the Muslims of the world?," Keshavan asked, adding, "It is one thing to be publicly religious-Shahid Afridi thanked Allah and Matt Hayden and Shaun Pollock are proud, believing Christians - quite another to declare that your country's cricket eleven bats for international Islam."
But the incident did not come as a surprise to many cricket fans, who pointed out on blogs that religious fervor has been part of Pakistani cricket ever since it resumed engagement with India in the late 1970s.
Ahead of the Twenty20 final clash, Pakistani newspapers made overt references to the final being held during Ramzan and predicted victory over India because it was the holy month, noting also that Pakistan’s World Cup victory in 1992 had also been achieved during Ramzan