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Good, Bad & Ugly ft. Prithvi shaw, Michael Clarke, and Ramesh Powar

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Good, Bad & Ugly ft. Prithvi shaw, Michael Clarke, and Ramesh Powar

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Subhayan Dutta

12/02/2018

We are back with our weekly dose of Good, Bad, & Ugly and pretty much like last week we have more bad and ugly aspects of sport overpowering the few good things. Indian women’s team scandal, Michael Clarke’s public outburst, athletes failing dope test- all feature in this issue.

Good

Pakistan hockey team had to undergo numerous uncertainties before catching the flight for World Cup being held in India, and even after that, there were huge uncertainties ahead of their opening clash against Germany concerning the kind of reception they would get from the Indian crowd. Four years back, when Pakistan were leaving Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium after winning the Champions Trophy semis 4-3, the players had shown lewd gestures and indecent signals to the crowd to keep shut. From tournament director Wiert Doyer to FIH chief Narinder Batra, everyone had taken offence to it and it took the then Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh to apologize publicly to prevent any action against his team. Despite this memory, the Men in Green saw a full house on Saturday that came out to support both the sides. It is a brilliant gesture especially given the fact that we are living in a time where it has become extremely easy to turn hostile towards our neighbor in the slightest of provocations.

While any hopes of men’s cricket being featured into the Olympics or getting back to the Commonwealth Games look extremely blur, the International Cricket Council (ICC) have done a tremendous job in launching a bid to include the Women’s T20 Cricket in the 2022 CWG that is to be held in Birmingham. Not only would the move uplift the women’s cricket, which is currently in its highest level ever in terms of reach, quality and popularity ever, but the place hosting also has an encouraging 23 percent of its population linked with the sport that should encourage it more. The last time Cricket was a part of commonwealth games was back in 1998 when it was held in Malaysia. The Proteas had won the tournament bagging the gold medal while Australia and New Zealand bagged the consecutive silver and bronze medals respectively. Australian, English, and even Indian women cricketing stars have already become huge names and this would only help them rise up.

Bad

The culture war between the reformists and traditionalists in Australian cricket went to a whole new level when Michael Clarke ripped apart Gerard Whateley, a respected journalist, after the latter suggested that Clarke was in a "gilded bubble" occupied by elite cricketers in a Twitter post. All happened after Clarke had suggested the team should prioritize playing "tough" cricket over being liked, which forced Whateley to remind the former skipper about the team's cultural issues tracing back to his appointment as captain. That didn’t go down well with Clarke and in an open letter, he stated several "facts" showing his incredible resume as skipper, all the while playing "by the rules". And, this where the problem lies. While the 'Australian way' of cricket has helped establish a myth and awe of the in-your-face attitude, as the ethics centre reported, it was also the primary reason of the Newlands scandal. Instead of accepting it, Clarke gave a blank fact redressal hinting that he still didn’t get it. He could have instead pointed out the previous teams, who were also loaded with aggressive personalities, or he could have stated that he wasn’t responsible for Warner and Smith’s action. What he did, doesn’t help the plummeting reputation establishing the notion that top cricketers live a step removed from the rest of the world.

While practice matches before a long Test series a good idea, no one can deny the idea that it always puts an extra risk of players getting injured with the extra field time. In India’s case, Prithvi Shaw’s injury would be a huge setback especially given the fact that the prodigy looked more than ready to become the country’s next big sensation. After his marvellous debut against Windies where he garnered 234 in two matches, which also included a maiden hundred, the 19-year-old’s year-long comparisons with legend of the game Sachin Tendulkar were finally looking to come true. But calamity struck one week prior to his dream campaign as Shaw suffered an ankle injury during the warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI, which has apparently torn his ligament. The incident happened while he was trying to take a catch at the boundary line of Max Bryant, and in the process of saving himself from crossing the ropes, he went over on his left ankle. India, however, have some ray of hope in Murali Vijay, whose 129-run knock in the second innings helped the visitors manage a draw.

Ugly

Everyone would agree that this is a golden period for the Indian athletes, who have pretty much become household names following their marvelous displays at the Asian Games in Jakarta. But, such has been the history of the sport under all the celebrations there has been a fear of their heroes being eventually called out. And the apprehensions were founded to be true when as many as five Indian athletes failed dope tests carried out by IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). The outcome was obtained based on the samples, which were collected at the inter-state trials held in Guwahati. The five athletes are 400m runner Nirmala Sheoran, long distance runner (5000 and 10,000m) Sanjivini Jadhav, 1500m runner Jhuma Khatun, Discus Thrower Sandeep Kumari, and shot put ace Naveen Chikara. Fortunately, Swapna Barman, who has been sponsored by Adidas and will get customized boots, and Hima Das, who have signed endorsement deal with the sport-giants, have been spared the blushes. Athletics had added 19 medals, including seven gold, to India’s overall tally of 69 medals, and this revelation would also bode terribly for NADA’s recent claim that they had been a reduction of doping cases over the last few years.

Only a few days after freelance sports agent named Anisha Gupta broke the possibility of Mithali Raj being dropped from the team owing to politics, the bottle of hate and venom was spilled with both the ODI skipper and Ramesh Powar sending mail to BCCI their versions of the controversy. What was bad so far, turned ugly when they were leaked to the public for one and all to perceive and judge accordingly. With Mithali revealed a string of incidents stating Powar had been intentionally ignoring her in the practice and informed her about her exclusion only before the start of the semi-final match, which left her “deflated, depressed and let down", the board has already put on a new application for the coach’s position in the women’s team. Powar’s version, although shaky, has accused the player of arrogance, groupism, and refusal to play in the batting position she was asked to do. The problem here isn’t the tension within the team or their form, which have always existed in Indian cricket, but plummeting BCCI, who are not expected to come up with a solution whatsoever.

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