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Cricket continues to lie to itself


You could argue that Pakistan kept international cricket going through the Covid-19 pandemic. They toured everywhere, they helped out England, the West Indies, South Africa and were willing to assist Afghanistan too.

Mohammad Rizwan of Pakistan bats during the 2021 KFC T20 match against South Africa at SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium, Centurion, on 14 April 2021. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

THIS wannabe global game … It isn’t … It’s largely a mess.

It’s a game for England, India and Australia.

For a while it was a game for South Africa – when the Proteas were the top Test team and had Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers – stars – in the side. Occasionally it is a game for the West Indies too, particularly the T20 format, with Chris Gayle, Carlos “Remember the name” Brathwaite, André Russell, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo.

At the moment it’s a game for New Zealand, because of the Black Caps’ pluckiness.

It is not a game for Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Pakistan – unless the others need them, of course.

The English players can come to South Africa, play half of their schedule, also get in a lot of time on the golf course, then claim they are tired and just go home. The English players pulled a similar trick this week in withdrawing from the short tour to Pakistan – “bubble fatigue” although not enough fatigue, to withdraw from the IPL bubble. What could the reason be?

This mixture of selfishness, arrogance and cowardice from players and officials in England and Australia – and throw in some greed as well, especially as far as Indian administrators are concerned is what cricket currently is about.

Cricket SA have fought battles at ICC level about the issue this year, but who knows how much support it can show the Pakistan Cricket Board, lest in doing so, CSA angers the BCCI. CSA can’t afford to do that – India tours SA later this year.

You could argue that Pakistan kept international cricket going through the Covid-19 pandemic. They toured everywhere, they helped out England, the West Indies, SA and were willing to assist Afghanistan too.

When Australia pulled out of their Test tour to SA earlier this year – despite numerous assurances about quarantine safety and VVIP levels of security – Pakistan agreed to play an extra T20 match on their tour to SA. They didn’t have to, it wasn’t financially impactful for CSA (the losses incurred from Australia were large), but it was hugely symbolic.

CSA should never forget that generosity. You’d think that the rest of the cricket world shouldn’t either – except England and New Zealand conveniently did.

The sport is crying out for leadership, but it will never get that from the ICC. Despite its own much-publicised Test Championship turning into a farce because the boards and players of Australia, England and India can just do as they please, the ICC would have everyone believe it is an authority for the sport.

It isn’t.

The disrespect shown to Pakistan this week by New Zealand and England, the disrespect shown to SA by Australia earlier this year, the disrespect shown to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is a disgrace.

Those in the leadership positions and the players of – especially England – but New Zealand too, should be ashamed of themselves. Pakistan saved them last year, ensured they could earn some money, and in the last week, they spat in their face.

Cricket, with its wannabe global aspirations. All that matters to cricket is the IPL, the Ashes and England facing India or India facing Australia. That’s what cricket is – the rest don’t matter.

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