Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cricket controversies: When Rameez Raja reads too much into the game

By John Cheeran
When teams meet each other quite often, twice every month, as is the case with cricket, it is difficult to keep the intensity intact.
Today’s Asia Cup final between Indian and Sri Lanka in Pakistan will be a tired show in every respect. In that case only your interpretation of the action on the field can leaven the encounters.
A foolish comment from former Pakistan cricketer, and now a television commentator, Rameez Raja, has given desperate sports journalists some talking point. I had heard Raja’s observation during the Super Four match between Indian and Sri Lanka on Sri Lankan cricketers lack of will to come ‘hard on India and defeat them,” and thought that here is a worthy who could be paired with Arun Lal and banished to hell for ever.
Raja had a really interesting theory to tell and sell. He reasoned that Sri Lanka should defeat India in that match, which was crucial for both India and Pakistan’s entry into the final of the Asia Cup, so that they will have a weaker rival in Pakistan in the final. India is a tough side, so if Sri Lanka let India win and enter the final, they will be making their own lives tougher in the final. By saying so, Raja was admitting that Pakistan was an inferior side compared to India. High treason, to say that in front of a Karachi crowed.
But what Raja did not tell at that time was that the host nation’s entry into the final solely depended on India’s defeat. So clearly Raja, as a Pakistani, was making a case for his nation and his team, though he claims to be a professional commentator.

And I was shocked to find out later that Raja’s observation was trotted by a section of desperate Indian cricket media as an insinuation for a staged match between India and Sri Lanka. So what do you do? You ask for a quote from any of the BCCI official available on Raja’s comment. And there you have another cricket controversy.
Sri Lanka, of course, had rested its experienced seamer Chaminda Vaas and emerging spin star Ajantha Mendis.
That’s part of the Sri Lankan strategy and none can quarrel with that after they moved into the final with a consistent show of strength in all departments of the game. So how can Rameez Raja cast doubts on the attitude and approach of Sri Lankan side? And consider that this Asia Cup had been criticized for its poor scheduling that made for back-to-back matches in searing heat with pitches offering little support for bowlers.
So can any one, who knows his cricket, blame Sri Lankans for giving some rest to their key bowlers ahead of the final?
The fact that Raja, a former cricketer, could do that and tick off the hungry media tells a story about the quality of contemporary cricket reportage.
Read the game, as they say.

No comments:

John Cheeran at Blogged