The three members of the English cricket team whose indulgences caused a lot of grief to the English Cricket Board and the team management may have apologised and gotten a clean of sorts. But the incident and the resultant treatment meted out to Monty Panesar – who indulged in a similarly defaming manner, a few weeks ago – still remain as fresh as ever. That he was promptly removed from the Ashes squad while these three cricketers only received a slap on their wrists has even raised the aspect of prejudice and bias on part of the ECB.
While the latter aspect still remains shrouded in ambiguity – for all intents and purposes – there is however no denying that the action taken by the Board definitely needs to be delved into further. Simply for the reason that England overlooked his credentials – impeccable as they were – and allowed a momentary infraction to replace him from the squad. There again, while Panesar’s absence may not affected or hindered the team’s performance much as regards the outcome of the series went, the turncoat nature of the officials who quoted about lofty idealistic behaviour and conduct expected from English players is what rankles and thrusts the aspect about prejudices into even brighter prominence. Thus, though the officials may still maintain about Panesar’s place in the team not being irrevocably affected, the lack of clarity surrounding his inclusion back into the squad points towards a different truth.
The ball, in essentiality, may seem to be in Panesar’s court. But since the accountability of the necessary ‘changes’ is in the hands of the board and quite subjective – so to speak – there is no way to expect that the bowler would indeed get an opportunity to bag an English cap. And herein, emerges yet another seeming facet of prejudiced tread taken by the English cricketing management and team officials.
Had the English team really been concerned about the conduct of its players, the act carried out by Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen should have compelled the management to penalise these players in a more stringent manner for thoroughly abusing the game’s spirit and norms of professionalism. That the English coach Andy Flower spoke about how their conduct should be excused on account of the extenuating circumstances – read the retaining of the Ashes urn – also displays no little hypocrisy on his part. Also, in this context, it won’t be wrong to say that of the three, Stuart Broad’s participation in the over-indulged revelry should have been scrutinised even more deeply.
His indulgence coming in the wake of his apparent unsportsmanlike attitude in the first test at Trent Bridge presents a completely unexpected face of English cricket. Rarely has it ever so happened in the English cricketing history that a player has behaved in a manner contravening the sport’s underlying values and principles. England then should really thought about making a better example for its cricketers by ensuring that such conduct gets nipped in the bud, however justified the cricketers themselves might feel about their actions.
The Ashes victory too becomes a bitter pill to swallow when positioned vis-à-vis these deviations from expected professionalism. When considered that the Australians were more often than not found to indulge in such reckless – perhaps not to such extents – comportment, it’s even harder to believe that as big the significance of this Ashes’ win, English players could stoop to such lows amidst such highs.
The changes in the sport may be obvious what with the introduction of newer formats. It may be even more obvious that these new-gen formats have started to encroach upon the vintage classicality of cricketing paradigms, taking away much of its shine in the eyes of the younger generation cricketing fans. But that these obvious changes are also slowly obscuring the sport’s well established and deep-rooted ethics and morality aspects is a sad reality indeed. And sadder perhaps, considering that the game’s originators are deluding themselves by giving mere excuses to cover their inadequacies pertaining to the game’s fast-disappearing and depleting ethicalities.