The cricketing world is a riveting one which is loved by the masses and they feel so deeply about the game that often social media turns into a parliament of opinion/debates. Be it boards, players, experts, fans, this week was one hell of a week, full of overreactions and polarizing opinions.
The Restaurant gate
Five Indian players allegedly breached the bio-bubble when they dined inside a restaurant and interacted with a fan. Many went on suggesting that it was part of mind games played by Australian media as they often act as 12th man of the side.
SC’s Take: While there is no denying that hardly any country's media can match Australia's, in terms of targeting opposition players, playing mind games and acting as an extension of the team - this has certainly not been the case in the 'Restaurant gate', and is more of a generalization by Indian fans and journalists. There was clear cut video evidence of the Indian Test players dining inside a restaurant, which is not allowed as per the COVID protocols, unless there is an exception, which isn't the case or else why would the players be put under isolation?
Now, what has blown this whole matter out of proportion is the lack of transparency by the BCCI. Only two things could have happened - either India breached the protocols or they didn't. If they did, just impose a fine and treat the players in question like CA did recently in BBL than trying to defend the undefendable because it's not 'us vs them' as has been the narrative given there's no room for faux pas in COVID times. Or else, just come out with a statement that they are allowed to dine indoors, if so, then throwing around the ever changing BCCI sources stories. Also, the whole investigation by CA and BCCI seems startling given it's a very straight forward instance and seems like an attempt to put the whole thing under the carpet more than anything.
Mohammad Asif calls out age fraud in Pakistan
Former Pakistan pacer Mohammad Asif stated that Pakistan pacers are 9-10 years older than what their age on paper reflects and that's the reason behind their inability to bowl longer spells.
SC’s Take: If I ever have to write the most controversial cricket book in the world, I would simply start collecting opinions of former Pakistan cricketers on the present players and it would have enough masala (spice) to make it the bestseller. In what is a routine affair in Pakistan cricket, albeit with changing names, this time, Mohammad Asif, who once was banned for spot-fixing, revealed that most of the Pakistan pacers have committed age frauds.
This ain't the first time when we have heard someone bluffing and bragging. But Asif, seemingly new in this business of making headlines at the expense of present players, needs to at least make claims that have slight resemblance with reality. I mean, you have to freaking kidding to say that someone can fudge age as much as 9-10 years, unless Shahid Afridi told him stories about him being an ageless wonder. Three-four years of age fraud can still be understood but not almost a decade. Also, he had claimed that pacers don't have flexibility to bowl 20-25 overs. In the recently concluded Boxing Day Test, Shaheen Afridi and Mohamad Abbas bowled over 30 overs each while Naseem Shah delivered 25 overs in the first innings. New Zealand declared early in the second innings if that is why Asif was calling out these pacers, then it’s laughable, to say the least.
Sachin Tendulkar on DRS
Legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar recently stated that ICC should do away with the umpire's call in the DRS system and it should be 100% based on technology only.
SC’s Take: When DRS, back then UDRS, was introduced in international cricket, it was first trialled in a series involving India but they decided to go against the whole system just because they couldn't make proper use of the referrals unlike Sri Lanka. Players like Sachin Tendulkar were against DRS as the technology wasn’t full proof and hence unreliable for them and the BCCI. And their stance at that time not only denied them the chance to use the technology but also the opposition as a result of their rigid stance, who were forced into submission and couldn't use the latest technology despite their willingness .
But now the same Sachin Tendulkar has taken a complete U-turn and wants DRS to decide LBW calls sans the umpire's call, as he's in favor of 100% dependency on the use of the same technology. It's ironic given the lack of major technological changes in DRS over the years. But it's Sachin's opinion which has completely changed and now he wants to eliminate the role of umpires from the DRS completely, the same system that he once found unreliable and wanted only umpire's decision to be there minus DRS and fought against the whole system alongside the top Indian cricketers and BCCI for years. We smell hypocrisy!
Chris Gayle' retirement plans
Chris Gayle wants to play for five more years for West Indies at least till the age of 45 and feature in the next two World Cups as well.
SC’s Take: 'Universe Boss' Chris Gayle is fun to listen to but as much as anything, whatever he says needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as such is the persona of the man. He recently stated, "Of course, no retirement plan as of now. I believe that I still have five more years, so before 45 no chance. And yes, two more World Cups to go." Now, this seems more of an overstatement than something plausible. Chris Gayle last played for West Indies in T20Is as long back as March 8, 2019.
Now, Gayle hasn't been showing much interest to play for West Indies in T20Is, either. I mean serious enough intent to turn up for the Caribbean than just uttering something in the press nor he's any longer in West Indies' plans as they already have capable players in their top-order to do the job, especially in a format like T20, where there's no dearth of talents in the country. Also, he's 41 and given he plays around the world in different franchise leagues, fitness might not be his best ally in his 40s and World Cups are serious affairs unlike franchise cricket where you can just turn up and play. In internationals, a player needs to be in team's plans and be part of the whole journey from the build up to the megaevent.