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'Racial profiling' of Asian players?

Be it excessive appealing or bowling disputes, Asia has always been treated with scepticism, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 15:56 IST

Hats off to Inzamam. His bulky frame carries resolve, which is much stronger than the collective will of all his critics. By playing, Inzamam would have only submitted to the whims of a 'diabolical' Hair and his backers in the International Cricket Council.

It belies reason that the Pakistan skipperwasn't aware ofthe implications of not taking the field. That will be insulting the collective judgment of the Pakistani team, and one of the sharpest brains in world cricket, coach Bob Woolmer.

But under the circumstances, they were left with no option but to 'surrender' with dignity. For them, a 0-3 defeat was far more honourable than a face saving win in a lost series, as it came protesting against what many believe to be the 'collective racial profiling' of Asian cricketers, especially the Pakistanis.

Now that there are talks of punishing Inzamam while Hair may once again escape censure is something which only ICC can come up with. But an unreasonable stand this time will only aggravate the already volcanic situation.

Agonising Asia

For ages, Asia has been at the receiving end of the collective might of the 'originals' - England and Australia. It was more than apparent about a decade ago when no efforts were left unturned to prevent Jagmohan Dalmiya from becoming the chairman of the apex body. That Dalmiya succeeded eventually showed what the collective might of the Asians could do.

Unfortunately, not much effort was made in the subsequent years to give Asia their due and power equations once again drifted back to Australia and England. So quickly, that it erased any memory of a change.

Bowling controversies

Be it reverse swing or doosra, it is the Asians who have always been at the receiving end.

Instead of appreciating the nuances of the art perfected by the likes of Waqar, Wasim, Saqlain and Murali, repeated attempts have been made to degrade their every possible achievement.

Don Bradman had called Wasim the best left-arm pacer he had ever seen. A keen observer of cricketing developments for decades, the Australian legend would have surely noticed if there was something amiss. He would probably have reserved his judgment on Wasim in that case.

Still, in Australia and England, there was always a needle of suspicion when Akram held the ball. His heroics invited more skepticism than admiration even as for Asians, he remained an ultimate bowler.

Very recently, England did the improbable in winning Ashes thanks to some terrific reverse swing thrown at the Australians by Simon Jones.

However, his 18 wickets in four Tests at an astonishing average of 21 raised no outcry. One wonders what would have been the reaction if Umar Gul or Asif were involved in such a feat against Aussies.

Excessive Appealing

It looks ugly when Asians' repeated appeals to the umpires fall on deaf ears, even if its a straight out. These instances often change the course of matches, as it happened in Eng-Pak thirdTest when Pietersen's clear edge to the keeper was given not out.

Conversely, how many times Warne and McGrath have been cautioned for showing utter disbelief and indulging in outrageous antics when an appeal has been rejected.

Their antics, sledging, and downright abuses gets the label of 'tough Aussie', while Asians tend to lose 'cash as well as match' for much lesser offenses. Even Viru can testify to that.

Painful Pattern

The strategy is simple. Frustrate the Asians by some awful decisions and when they protest, throw the rulebook on their face.

However, the trouble is, even Asians are not helping their cause. An Asian match referee, few years back, justified the loud and abrasive behaviour of the Australians on the field by pointing out to the cultural differences between them and the Asians.

This kind of nonsense must end immediately. Tours by teams like India and Pakistan are the real money-spinners and it is time these countries must get the respect their cricketing pedigree deserves.

If they do feel chained by the very thought of playing under the supervision of a particular umpire, there should be no harm in giving them a panel of mutually agreeable umpires and not some 'diabolical' one.

Time to unite

It was interesting to read Ajit Wadekar's observation on the issue that 'the root of the controversy lay in Pakistan not coming out after tea interval and play'.

We must guard against this kind of reactions.

By playing, even under protest, Pakistan would have only submitted to the grave injustice which came sans any evidence. By playing on without protesting the way they did, they would have only given in to the race and region specific profiling which is against the very spirit cricket is ingrained in.

Even if Pakistan had won the Test, where they held the upper hand throughout, it would have been a tainted victory.

Instead, Inzamam's action has given Pakistan a high moral ground which Asians must make full use of. And thank him for it.

First Published: Aug 22, 2006 15:05 IST