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Shahid Afridi is an idiot!

by Homer

Per Cricinfo

Afridi, leading Pakistan in the absence of Mohammad Yousuf, was caught by TV cameras apparently biting the ball on a couple of occasions. This was reported to the on-field umpires by the TV umpire and, after a chat with Afridi, the umpires changed the ball.
Afridi was called into a hearing with the match referee Ranjan Madugalle immediately after the match. Madugalle said Afridi pleaded guilty to the charge, apologised and regretted his action.
And the reason Shahid Afridi is an idiot is not because he bit the ball. He is an idiot because he acquiesced to changing the ball after talking to the umpires. Had he not, there would have been no ban. And with no ban, there would have been nothing to keep the main stream and alternate medias aflame for two days after the incident.And the incident itself would be consigned to the dust bin.Or limited to the fading memories of the people who saw the incident, directly or otherwise.

Because there is precedent.And no, I am not talking Stuart Broad's naughty spikes or James Anderson's touch of love. Think back to Australia's tour of India in 2008
Umpire Billy Bowden had an extended chat on the field with Australia captain Ricky Ponting regarding the incident, during the second session of the fourth day’s play.
Television replays showed White peeling a piece of leather off the ball. The ball had crashed into the boundary hoardings and suffered some damage. The umpires, however, resumed play deciding to keep the ball unchanged.
In terms of what transpired, there is very little to separate the two incidents. Except that in one case, the ball was changed after talking to the captain and in the other, it wasnt.

And in the meantime, the presiding deity of all things cricket had this to say
He should know.. It is the only plausible explanation for him bowling part timers when a test match, and the series, were at stake.

25 comments:

Naked Cricket said...

man, watched three idiots today, and on a warped serious note I've been thinking Afridi is the 4th idiot - he's a messed up kid, playing some weird games in his head not on the field. And that's a shame for any Pakistani whose an Afridi fan.

Homer said...

NC,

In the entire episode, I found Afridi's labelling of all teams as cheats to be the most disturbing. And what is really disturbing is that the ICC cannot really touch him on that- unless Haroon Lorgat makes an official complaint!

So who is the idiot now?

Cheers,

Yenjie said...

Time was, a Pathan was known for his unique sense of honor; then modern Pakistan happened, and now the dominant ethos is cheating, dishonesty and claims of victimhood if you're caught. He's only a creature of his culture. What has happened throughout this Australia tour is beyond disgraceful. Generations of Pakistani cricketers and the proud tradition they built has been pissed upon by men not fit to walk on the same ground. Pakistan cricket is dead.

Nathan said...

Umm reeeeally?

Homer said...

Yenjie,

How does his cultural background have anything to do with this?

By the same token then, the cricketing culture he plays in is one that rules are enforced in an ad hoc manner. So why should he be above pushing the envelope?

Cheers,

Nathan said...

There is pushing the envelope around the edges, and then there is burning the kerosine-soaked envelope with a lighter. Biting the ball the split second the umpire has turned his back is the latter.

Homer said...

Nathan,

And the on field umpires did not see the incident, did they? Just ike they did not see Stuart Broad's spikes or James Anderson's fingers on the seam. Or Cameron White removing a piece of leather from the ball.

Just like they did not see Rahul Dravid applying lozenge on the ball or Sachin cleaning the seam.

Every single one of the above instances is an example of "burning the kerosine-soaked envelope with a lighter".

And however it is spun, all are instances of ball tampering.

I would have loved if Shahid Afridi had challenged the umpires on the decision to change the ball because then the burden of proof would have been laid on the ICC's door step.

And is past precedent is any indication, either they would have issued a statement and cited technicalities ( as they did in South Afria) or they would have had another incident like the Oval 2006 and all the resultant flip flops that followed.

Which is why Afridi is an idiot!

Cheers,

Nathan said...

"the split second the umpire has turned his back"

"And the on field umpires did not see the incident, did they?"

Well, yes, Homer, that's because he did it right after they turned away... that's why the third umpire or not. Challenge the decision or not, the umpires weren't about to let a ball with teeth imprints stay, especially when the ball's seaming just amped up.

All the examples you list have something in common; just enough subtlety and discretion to say "oh it was a nervous twitch", "it wasn't actually touching the ball", blah blah blah.

I mean, you, me, the umpires and the guys in the crowd know it's a crock and that they knew exactly what they were doing. And we would have pinged them if we could, but they have just enough plausibility in their corner to garner the official benefit of the doubt. However, to raise the ball to your mouth and chow down... with your jaw clearly going at it behind your hands... He could challenge all he liked, if the umpires had let it go, it would have been worth EAR de Silva's job. It was too blatant, it was the kerosine-soaked fire rather than the frayed edge of an envelope. Yes, the stupidity was that he did it in such a way as to get so blatantly caught (or rather, to have damaged the ball TO THAT DEGREE, such that it noticeably picks up its seaming in the following overs)...

This is an idiocy only someone as certifiably insane as Shahid Afridi could have aspired to.

However, even he wasn't crazy enough to have challenged that decision. Once he knew that was on tape, if he had tried to play it innocent, the storm would have gone up another notch entirely, because his team would have had to leap to his defence, tarnishing the entire squad instead of just Afridi.

As it is, everyone has the picture of Rana watching on as Afridi bites down and then going on bowling as if nothing happened...

Nathan said...

oops, typo:

"Well, yes, Homer, that's because he did it right after they turned away... that's why the third umpire called it onto the pitch"

As an aside though, Cricket Files has a very interesting post on why Afridi may have done it. Not so much to alter the course of the game, but a frustrated riposte to his bowlers.

raj said...

Where is JP? Where is JP? :-) He can explain this satisfactorily, Homer and convince us that it was right not to ban WHite and perfectly correct to ban Afridi.
You've put out a good case for the similarity of two cases but I trust JP to break your case.
JP - you are needed here.

Homer said...

Nathan,

What Afridi did was novel, but no less blatant than any of the other incidents I mentioned in my previous comment.. How is biting the ball any more of a problem than using nails to lift the seam or using the fingers to remove leather from the ball's surface?

And none of the instances I mentioned had any degree of subtlety - all of these incidents were captured on camera and in the case of White, Anderson and Broad, the umpires had a chat with the captains, just as they did with Afridi.

Also, the law for ball tampering is unambiguous. It does not make distinctions between the extent of damage to the ball nor does it have caveats that say that if the ball swings/seams/spins more than an upper threshold after it has been tampered with, the law should kick in.

And I don't think anyone would have lost their jobs over this if the onus would have shifted to the ICC instead of being with Afridi - we have seen the ICC cop out before and I would have expected more of the same.

Think about it this way - the guy calls all international teams cheats and not a thing has been done about it ( nor do I expect anything will be done). Why? Because the ball is in the ICC's court to push ahead with the charges.

Cheers,

PS:- I did see Wasim's post and it makes for interesting reading ... But only Afridi can tell us what motivated Afridi to do the bite. But then again, here is a guy who did the moon walk on the good length area in a test so...

Cheers,

Yenjie said...

Homer, I think you mean "What" does his bacground have to do with....... You are saying the same thing as me. Here's the current culture in Pakistan as I understand it - dishonesty, denial of the truth, claim to be a victim of problems created by yourself, corruption, and an acceptance of corruption as the only way to win, all covered with a shining layer of false piety. This is all very recent - Zia's legacy. The previous generation of greats - Abbas, Imran, Javed, even Wasim and Waqar, grew up in a much more liberal pre-Zia cultural climate, where merit, honesty, honor and hardwork still carried a great deal of value. Not any more. Now its all about percentages and who you know and how long your beard is. This culture produces the ball sniffer Afridis, the Tanvirs (Hinduon ki zahaniyat hi aisi hai), the Asifs (I didn't eat the Opium was the dingo ate the Opium and left it in my wallet), the Qamran Akmals, and the Mo Yousufs (I have the longest beard which qualifies me to be the team captain). Each cricket team is a product of its own culture - the Australians are brash, aggressive and testosterone fueled, the English are superior and bumbling, but dogged, the New Zealanders are nice, the Sri Lankans are polite to a fault, the Bangladeshis are over enthusiastic and showy, and the Indians are neuvo riche and pushy. For that same reason, the current crop of Pakistanis are cheats.
That is why I feel Pakistan cricket is dead - not for want of talent. After all their u-19 team won the world cup a week back. Problem is, when these u-19 guys make it into the national team, they get the immersed in the corrupt culture prevailing in the senior dressing room, and the cycle goes on. It will be broken only if the national culture changes. DO you see that happening anytime soon? Soon enough to save Pak cricket? I am very pessimistic.

nestaquin said...

Yenjie, I think you'll find that Australia won the 19s World Cup last week.

Jonathan said...

Raj, at the time of the White incident, Scorpicity provided the explanation you expect from me. The absurdity of Homer's suggestion that the replacement could be challenged is clear (although as he points out with reference to precedent, absurdity is believable).

Having said that, that wasn't my response. As you can see, I said that Dar should have changed the ball, imposed the penalty, and charged White. I stand by that now. While the Law is absurd if taken literally, the intent is unambiguous in that sort of situation, even given the 'clarification' in the Code of Conduct. As far as White is concerned, I made the same point as Homer makes here.

Speaking the penalty runs, does their absence in Perth reveal that the ICC/MCC are going to change the Law again?

raj said...

Jonathan thanks for that. I will not be mean again :-)

Homer said...

Yenjie,

Not sure if such linear extrapolations can be drawn about team behavior - Javed got into a tangle with Lillee in the early 80s and Majid Khan called for Jihad on the cricket field against India in 1978.

Broad generalizations of national characteristics are just that - broad generalizations.. But God lies in the details :)

Cheers,

Homer said...

Jonathan,

The absurdity of the suggestion reflects the ad hoc nature by which the ICC operates.

Technically, Afridi was well within his rights to challenge the ball change - if he had, it would have been upto the umpires to categorically prove the ball had been tampered with and then penalize the fielding team for this transgression.

And going by past precedent, in the aftermath of the Oval fiasco in 2006, odds were that Afridi would have walked.

And to accentuate the absurdity of how the ICC operates, Afridi does not even get a rap on his knuckles for calling all other international cricketers cheats. In the aftermath of the match fixing scandal, one would have thought that the ICC would take a real dim view of such libelous opinions expressed on public fora without any proof.

Cheers,

Jonathan said...

Homer, I wasn't trying to imply that your absurd suggestion was inappropriate - I could think of many absurd but believable endings to that scenario!

Of course, it is not quite the same as the Oval. A common catchcry then was that there was no video evidence. Presumably both the actions of the umpires and Afridi reflected their knowledge of the (possible) existence of the footage we have seen.

As for libellous accusations, is the ICC enough of an aggrieved party to sue, or would the individual teams have to stand up and pretend to be offended?

Homer said...

Jonathan,

From the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Personnel

2.1.7 Public criticism of, or inappropriate comment in relation to an incident occurring in an International Match or any Player, Player Support Personnel, Match official or team participating in any International Match, irrespective of when such criticism or inappropriate comment is made.

Note: Without limitation, Players and Player Support Personnel will breach Article 2.1.7 if they publicly criticise the Match officials or denigrate a Player or team against which they have played in relation to incidents which occurred in an International Match. When assessing the seriousness of the breach, the context within which the comments have been made and the gravity of the offending comments must be taken into account.
--
3.2.1.2 a Level 1 Offence or a Level 2 Offence that is alleged to have been committed at any time or place other than on the field of play then the Report must be lodged with the Match Referee (or, where, for logistical reasons, it is impractical to lodge with the Match Referee, the ICC’s Cricket Operations Department) as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any event, no later than forty-eight (48) hours (where the Report is lodged by an Umpire) or ninety-six (96) hours (where the Report is lodged by the Team Manager or CEO of either of the two National Cricket Federations) after: (a) the commission of the alleged offence; or (b) the alleged offence was brought to the attention of the person lodging the Report

Cheers,

straight point said...

another walnut, shaun tait, has come in open and said all teams does it...

specially this line of taits... "It probably goes on, but I have never seen it with my own eyes,"

lol!

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/cricket/top-stories/Everyone-tampers-with-the-ball-but-I-havent-seen-it-as-yet-Tait/articleshow/5530208.cms

Jonathan said...

Homer, I'm sure "in relation to an incident" is a get-out if he doesn't mention a particular incident... imagine if they did chase down ever vague accusation!

Homer said...

Thanks for the link SP :)

Cheers,

Homer said...

Jonathan,

This is no vague accusation. This is the captain of Pakistan accusing all and sundry of cheating after being charged and found guilty of tampering the ball.

"I'm sure "in relation to an incident" is a get-out if he doesn't mention a particular incident... " - see, the ICC can cop out every single time :)

Cheers,

Yenjie said...

nestaquin, thou are right. I was too enthusiastic there for a second. Point is, they made it to the finals, which is no mean feat in itself given where they are coming from. Apart from the u-19 bunch, they also have two of the most talented young players anywhere right now - Umar Akmal is sublime and Mo Aamer is light years ahead of our Ishant in talent as well as pace.

Homer, that was a rather facile dismissal of my "culture maketh the cricketer" thesis. FYI, Javed did not scrap with Lillee - Lillee was an inveterate bully in the time honored Aussie fashion, and he started it. Javed stood up to him, and but for the ump jumping in the middle would have ended Lillee's playing days right then and there with his bat. And, that "Javed attitude" was in itself a product of the Karachi of those days. The Oxbridge cultured Imran would never have responded like that to Lillee (he'd probably have clean bowled Lillee and then banged Lillee's wife afterwards for good measure.)

Homer said...

Yenjie,

Not dismissing your thesis, but as you pointed out, the difference between Javed and Imran had a lot to do about their upbringing. And that is why I am wary of national stereotypes,- every nation has enough diversity to pigeonhole the entire nation into broad generalizations. Shahid Afridi is a Pathan but has spent his formative years in Karachi - doesnt his cricket reflect that? :)

Cheers,