For some strange reason, whenever I get a taxi home from Sevenoaks station, I always get picked up by the same driver. He’s a passionate, and ever so slightly crazy, Bangladesh supporter. He was not a happy chap on Friday night.
Having had several pints of ale, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it went something like this: “Aleem Dar is a cheat; the ICC is corrupt; the umpires gave Rohit Sharma not out because they’re in India’s pocket; if it wasn’t for corrupt umpiring and India’s money then Bangladesh would be in the semi final etc”. You get the general idea.
I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I hadn’t seen the incident in question and I assumed it wouldn’t have made too much difference anyway. India are better than Bangladesh. End of.
However, I certainly raised an eyebrow when I read the words of ICC president Mustafa Kamal, a Bangladeshi, in the papers today. Here’s what he had to say about Aleem Dar and the umpiring:
“From what I have seen, the umpiring was very poor. There was no quality in the umpiring. It seemed as if they had gone into the match with something in mind. I am speaking as a fan, not as the ICC president. Umpires may make mistakes.The ICC will see if this was done deliberately. Everything is on record. The ICC has to investigate and inquire the issue to see if there’s anything to it.”
Holy crap! This isn’t something you usually hear from ICC presidents. Normally we get the usual “nothing to see here, please move along” treatment – a bit like Lesley Nielsen in the Naked Gun when that missile launcher drives into a fireworks factory.
I’m not normally one for conspiracy theories – although it depends how one defines ‘conspiracy’ – so I’m a little shocked to hear someone so senior at the ICC talk about stitch ups so candidly. I imagine Kamal simply got the hump and either forgot or didn’t care how his words would be interpreted. It’s not very becoming for an ICC president to talk like this. He Mustafa long hard look at himself.
Anyway, crap puns aside there is a serious point to be made. Why would someone at the pinnacle of cricket’s governing body automatically assume foul play? He could be a fantasist, or have an agenda we’re not aware of, but it seems unlikely that someone at the top of his profession could be entirely delusional (no Paul Downton jokes please).
Cynics will hear Kamal’s words and assume that corruption in cricket is something those at the top of the ICC encounter every day. It would have to be dodgy for an ICC president to automatically smell a rat in a moment of weakness, right?
Or perhaps he’s seen the recent shenanigans at the ICC, where everything seems to revolve around the Big Three and Indian money, and become rather cynical about it all. Perhaps a few on-field 50:50 decisions going India’s way doesn’t seem that far fetched to someone who has seen the global game restructure itself around Indian desires?
Or perhaps he really is just a delusional nutter.