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July 14, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Zimbab Way

Look inside yourselves, sports fans. You know it doesn’t get much more win-win than this. In an effort to succinctly curb the taunts and machinations of an increasingly curious Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) while simultaneously issuing a callous finger-wagging the likes of which can only be compared with the disapproving grimace of a kindergarten teacher, the International Cricket Council (ICC) reached a confusing middle-of-the-road compromise last week over Zimbabwe’s status as a cricketing nation.

In light of the democracy-shunning Dame Edna-spectaclessporting bastardry of one Robert Mugabe and his violent cohorts tearing the frail African nation asunder, the ICC understood and perhaps even sympathised with the feelings of outrage felt by a number of its Western members in regards to Zimbabwe’s status as a test playing nation. However, after three days of relatively tense discussion, cricket’s governing body thought it wise not to completely dismiss Zimbabwe, instead shafting them of their right to claim 8th place at the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup while simultaneously lending them full ICC membership perks and funding.

It’s an ingenious move, simply marvellous. Not only has the ICC given the world cup of a form of cricket better understood as “cricket without all that cricket getting in the way” the credence it quite clearly deserves, but they have also continued to prop up a nation of cricketing inebriates who are also patronised by the very googlyeyed monster the nations of the west are so sorely aggrieved with. In essence, they’ve done completely nothing while appearing to have done absolutely everything, like a magician who squirts you in the eye with lighter fluid from his cuffs while unsuccessfully trying to conjure a fireball.

While cricket fans the world over scramble to find a faucet to rinse the sting of lighter fluid out of their eyes, they’ll soon be casting a critical eye across the musty gin-soaked carpets at ICC HQ to see just who in their right minds could possibly see the good in validating Zimbabwean cricket. The decision by the BCCI to support Zimbabwe, while Australia and England were desperately appealing for a dismissal, must be viewed through the uncomplicated kaleidoscope of political manoeuvring so prevalent in world cricket today.

With the advent of the Indian Premier League, operated by the BCCI and sanctioned by the ICC, the powerbase of world cricket began to have a distinctly Indian feel to it. The ICC’s Asian voting block, spearheaded by India, has enjoyed in recent times a curious command over the way in which world cricket is controlled, and one must be conscious of the fact that this has aided by the doting “yays” and “nays” of those from Zimbabwe – the fifth “buffer” vote at the table.

A more suspicious point of view suggests that perhaps a tinge of audacity on the part of those western nations so gung-ho to see the Zim Bots swotted away may have swayed the BCCI cartel. As CricInfo’s HYPERLINK “http://content-nz.cricinfo. com/magazine/content/story/magazine/author_new. html?author=0;genre=115” Dileep Premachandran wrote recently, “Apart from the fact that the atrocities in Zimbabwe don’t occupy column inches in the Indian media, there is a deep-rooted suspicion about Western double standards.” The history of cricket is nothing if not littered with gory tales of double standards and political posturing, but the evidence is well-guarded and in some cases spurious in content and design. For a sport so founded on the treatises of gentlemanly conduct, it’s messier than Ryan Sidebottom’s hair after a session at Lords.

But in light of the ICC’s ruling, the aurora of ideologies coalescing across the skies of the noble sport where leather meets willow is perhaps as jarring as the awkward metaphor that preceded this sentence. This decision was not a victory for the inimitable genius of the ICC’s powerbrokers to bring the best of both east and west together, nor was it a feather in the cap of the BCCI in its so-called bid to ensnare the game of cricket. It was, quite simply, a cop-out of audacious proportions and damning indictment on the ICC’s ability to govern with a view to the betterment of global cricket.

Denying Zimbabwe the right to lose by 9 wickets come 2009 while proffering pennies in their purses is by no means a win-win; it’s an audacious refusal to take a stand, to ignore the essence of fair play and sportsmanship and decency towards one’s fellow man, and to recognise that in the greater scheme of sport and life, some things simply go beyond the realm of compromise. It’s a simple code that cricket, quite clearly, no longer has time to consider – and that is anything but win-win.

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