The Cricketer with Mansoor Ahmed
The ICC finally decided to keep the Champions Trophy in Pakistan following pressure from the powerful Asian bloc.
But their decision appears to have split the cricket world right down the middle.
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England are still showing reluctance to attend due to terrorist threats. What surprises me however is that players from all these countries are quite happy to go to India to play in the IPL despite the terrorist threats and bomb explosions. Four people were stabbed to death in London the day the First Test match started between England and South Africa at Lords, dozens more had been stabbed or killed in the previous few weeks. The PCB successfully organised the Asia cup a few weeks back, all umpires and match referees declared the venues safe. I suspect the real reason is a lack of ‘night life’ in Pakistan!
Sri Lanka literally thrashed India in the first Test match in Colombo by an innings and 239 runs with 23-year-old debutant Ajantha Mendis taking 8 wickets and Muralitharan adding another 11 to his tally of 734. However this test match will be best remembered for other reasons. For the first time players were given the right to challenge umpiring decisions. Anil Kumble became the first player to use new system albeit unsuccessfully. Sri Lanka’s Dilshan was the first player to have a decision overturned after he was given out LBW. The TV umpire agreed with him that ball had pitched outside the leg stump. He then went on to score a hundred. Each team is allowed up to 4 unsuccessful appeals per innings.
For so many years we saw umpires making huge blunders while the third umpire or players had no right to intervene. The game was becoming a laughing stock. It was quite noticeable that ferocious orchestrated appeals that we have seen over the years to pressurise umpires had disappeared and they seemed more relaxed. If it wasn’t for the old farts at ICC, we could have seen this system introduced much earlier.
The Newly democratically elected government in Pakistan, who had vowed to restore independent judiciary and free media amongst other freedoms, was instrumental in reinstating Shoaib Akhtar back in Pakistan squad. Apparently federal ministers ‘mediated’ between PCB and Shoaib to clear the air, which then led to his High Court appeal against an 18 month ban being adjourned until after the Champions trophy, clearing the way for him to be named in the provisional squad. It’s a wonderful thing this democracy!