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Thursday, November 9, 2023

India winning ! - Pak Hasan Raja's Baloney !!

ICC World Cup 2023 has been a great entertainer – 40 matches complete – some scintillating, some one-sided – it has been a great exhibition sport.

AG Thompson immigrated to Australia in 1888 with his new wife Ruth. They were destined for Canada. On seeing a poster promoting Tasmania he changed his mind and decided to set sail for Australia, and a warmer climate. They disembarked in Melbourne instead, and stayed.AG settled in Brighton where he and Ruth raised 4 children – those days,  Brighton was a market gardening area with an abundance of native birds, one being AG’s ‘pet’ Kookaburra Jacky.  In the  period before the First World War they grew a solid business producing and selling cricket balls and oval-shaped inflatable footballs. Alf Thompson enlisted and served in the Australian Army Service Corps (ASC)  -by 1924, almost hundred years ago! – they   made a concerted effort to break into the cricket ball market on a much larger scale. The product gradually established itself. Wonder what this is about !

A cricket ball is not a perfect sphere. The seam of the ball is the circular stitching which joins the two halves of the cricket ball. Hence, the seam joining the pieces of leather is circumferential and the stitching is noticeably raised. If the ball is bowled in such a way that the seam hits the pitch when it bounces, this irregularity can cause the ball to deviate sideways in its path. It may move in any direction, or just go straight. The batsman generally watches the ball from the moment it leaves the hand of the bowler till it pitches and further moves !!!!  seam bowlers usually deliver  the ball with the seam held upright, with rotation about a horizontal axis.

Kookaburras (genus Dacelo) are terrestrial tree kingfishers native to Australia and New Guinea. The name is a loanword, onomatopoeic of its call. The kookaburra's loud call sounds like echoing human laughter. The Australia men's national field hockey team have the nickname ‘kookaburras’.

With over 130 years of experience Kookaburra is the leading cricket ball manufacturer globally, and Kookaburra is the official (red) cricket ball supplier to the main cricket–playing nations other than India, West Indies and England for Test Matches, and the white “Turf” ball is used exclusively in all ODI’s and T20Is worldwide. The present ICC world Cup 2023 is played with Kookaburra balls only.

Back on Sept 18,1997, in an ODI at Canada, India beat Pakistan comfortably by 34 runs, after scoring only 182/6.  Dada Sourav Ganguly had figures of 10-3-16-5 and Hasan Raja was one of his victims, dismissed for a duck !!

Hasan Raza is one of the many Pakistanis given an early exposure to international cricket, although even by those standards his Test debut at the age of 14 years and 227 days was exceptional (doubts about his birthdate and medical tests later resulted in the PCB withdrawing the record claim - his actual age was uncertain, but was around 15 at the time of debut).

For many ages, Pakistan Cricket is all fizz and drama – both onfield performances and off-field statements.  This WC has not been great for Pakis who have lost to India, Australia, South Africa and Afganisthan !   with the team languishing at the bottom, there are a bunch of  TV anchors and former cricketers  engaged in perplexing and unfounded discussions under the guise of “expert opinions.” One such baffling conversation occurred on the news channel ‘ABN’ with former Pakistan cricketer Hasan Raza.

After India’s dominant victory over Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium, where Indian pacers knocked over Sri Lanka for a mere 55, the anchor of the cricket show posed a barely believable question – Raza - “Is there a possibility that Indian bowlers are given a different ball? The amount of seam and swing that Indian bowlers are achieving makes it appear as though they are playing on a unique, ‘ajeebogareeb’ (strange) surface.”

Hasan Raza has played Cricket but yet believes that the whole World can get united to give undue favours to Indian team – giving them a different ball – simple, he is unable to digest India’s winning ways. Unbecoming of a former player who has played international cricket, Raza  said: “Perhaps the ball is changed in the second innings; the way ICC provides the ball, or maybe the third umpire panel or BCCI; there should be an inspection for this.”  Raza did not stop there. He further added that  the DRS decisions have favoured India, without offering any substantial evidence or specific instances,

Former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram  lashed out at Hasan Raza accusing the Indian bowlers of receiving favours from the ICC  - then our own Mohammad Shami slammed Hasan Raza for his “nonsense” comment. “Have some shame. Focus on the game and not this nonsense. Sometimes, you should enjoy the success of others. This is World Cup and not your local tournament. You were once a player, right? Wasim bhai had explained it, and yet. You don’t trust your own player? You are only praising yourself,” Shami uploaded in his Instagram story in Hindi, along with the video of Hasan’s comments.

Hasan Raja must be reminded of his playing days – back in Aug 20, 2006,  the first-ever Test in history was forfeited as the Inzamam-ul-Haq led Pakistan were accused of tampering with the ball during the fourth and final contest of the England tour, played at The Oval.Hosts England were leading the four-match series 2-0 after the first match ended in a draw, however, Pakistan were dominating the final Test and had the game in their hands until the visitors were accused of having altered the condition of the ball.

That was  not the first time that Pakistan found themselves mired in such a controversy. In the 1992 series, England had accused Pakistan of tampering with the ball, however, no action was taken at the time due to unclear evidence.However, in the 2006 series, umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove inspected the condition of the ball and without any warning, whatsoever, awarded England with five penalty runs. England were allowed to change the ball, which indicated that Pakistan had altered and tampered the Dukes ball.

That  summer of 1992 was pockmarked by spectacular collapses, almost all of them by England. Stumps flew, balls boomeranged; England lost nine wickets for 102 runs and eight for 67 at Lord's, eight for 28 at Headingley, and seven for 25 at the Oval. Time after time their batsmen would be bowled or trapped LBW by unplayable balls vrooming violently towards the stumps. There has been never been such a devastating and sustained display of fast bowling in this country – not even from the West Indies in their prime.In the 1990s, the phrase ‘ball-tampering’ almost became synonymous with Pakistan cricket. It was the end of Pakistan’s 1992 tour to England which opened a Pandora’s Box, when the South Africa-born English cricketer Allan Lamb accused Pakistan’s cricketers of ball-tampering.

Legend has it that it was Sarfraz Nawaz who introduced this ‘art’ into the Pakistan team. While practising at the Lahore Gymkhana nets in the 1960s, a first-class bowler taught a 17-year-old Sarfraz a few tricks, which he subsequently applied in the match and got the prodigious unconventional swing, which later became known as ‘reverse swing’.Sarfraz didn’t mind the reputation of being a scoundrel, though he has always maintained that he achieved reverse swing without using unfair means. He proudly claims that he taught this art to Imran Khan who later transferred it to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, reminiscent of Indian classical music ‘gharana’ (family) in which the style of rendition is passed on from generation to generation.

In 1990, when Waqar and Wasim were hunting down the visiting Kiwis one by one with their colossal reverse swing bowling, one of the Kiwis, the fast bowler Chris Pringle, said “enough is enough” and decided to give the opposition a taste of their own medicine. He used the good old bottle top to make the ball swing. And boy did the ball talk! On a lifeless Faisalabad pitch, described once by Dennis Lillee as a “bowlers’ graveyard”, Pringle took 11 wickets and almost won the game for his team.In the past, renowned Pakistani bowlers Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar have been called out for displaying the ‘art’ in public. In his autobiography Controversially Yours, Shoaib Akhtar wrote: “Almost all Pakistani fast bowlers have tampered with the ball. I may be the first to openly admit to it but everybody is doing it.”

Our eastern neighbour India doesn’t have many ball-tampering culprits. Perhaps, Kapil Dev wasn’t that open to new ideas as was his favourite counterpart Imran. Some people may hate Imran Khan, especially now that he is an established politician, but not many people would doubt his cricketing knowledge. The man told us in the 1980s and 1990s that ball-tampering is a skill and everyone does it. In Ivo Tennant’s biography on Imran Khan, the iconic cricketer confessed that, during a county match between Sussex and Hampshire, he used a bottle top to alter the condition of the ball.

No wonder then that when three Aussies — Cameron Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner — were temporarily banned from playing international cricket for tampering with the ball, Pakistanis were exultantly sharing memes on social media. Deep down, most of the Pakistanis had a soft corner for them. So, at the time, if these lads had no place to hide, they could’ve easily visited Pakistan and found out how much we love them.

Well don’t jump or try to criticise or defend the Pakis – the shaded portion is no verbal accusation of a critic but extracted from a post in Paki news paper Dawn.

With regards – S Sampathkumar

Biblio : 

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