Understatement of the year from the The Australian :-)
Latest affair reflects badly on Australia
Comment by MIKE COWARD
WHAT is it about Pakistan which brings out the worst in us? The
furore surrounding Shoaib Akhtar should embarrass Australia.
Little wonder there are good people throughout the sub-continent
who consider Australia to be xenophobic.
Certainly the apparent branding of Shoaib, one of the game's very
few international headliners, bespeaks of cultural elitism.
Already one Australian cricketer has apologised to Shoaib for the hurt
and embarrassment he has been caused and others are expected to
The Australian Cricket Board says it is embarrassed the report about
Shoaib's bowling action was leaked.
And so it should be, for someone in Perth has acted in the most
mischievous manner and done Australian cricket a great disservice.
Only time will tell how much harm has been done.
But it doesn't auger well when you start a season of such potential
with an empty feeling in the pit of your gut.
We should be salivating at the prospect of Shoaib, Wasim Akram,
Saqlain Mushtaq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed and
Yousuf Youhana strutting their stuff before turning our attention to
peerless Sachin Tendulkar and his gifted Indian team-mates including
Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble.
But as so often happens when Pakistan are about, there is a
considerable distraction. Australians have distrusted Pakistani
cricketers since the very first Test in 1956, when it is said that
pebbles were surreptitiously pushed under the matting to give gifted
swing and seam bowler Fazal Mahmood an unfair advantage. Pakistan
won the match.
While it is true Pakistan have done little to help their cause and
credibility in recent years, as *** and match-fixing controversies
have raged, Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram and former captains Mark
Taylor and Aamir Sohail have at the same time worked to improve
On balance, these two teams get on pretty well and it is to be hoped
this latest upheaval does not undermine the considerable gains made
over the past four years.
Thankfully, Shoaib has Wasim as his guru. Wasim has been through it
all and then some and get provide perspective.
As distressing as the hurt to Shoaib was the admission by Wasim that
he was not surprised a malicious whispering campaign was launched
the moment his team reached these shores.
"Why, when some opposition team comes here, do they have a go at
them in such a way instead of praising the talent we have, of saying
he is the fastest bowler and will get some wickets instead of having a
go at him in a negative way?"
This is a reasonable question from one of the game's foremost players
and leaders and it provides something of an insight into the way the
rest of the world can view Australian cricket.
The leaking of the report on Shoaib by Ric Evans, the director of
umpiring in Western Australia, has changed the tenor and focus of
this series before a ball has been bowled.
A week ago everyone was preparing to look at Shoaib for all the right
reasons. Now they may well watch for all the wrong reasons.
This is a great pity and again places Australian cricket in a very poor