Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Twenty-Two Yard Jihad

Yes, we did it! I think an occasion big enough to get me out of my slumber and type out a small note on this page. It was an awesome feeling. A match worthy of a final. Seems to be a good year for India in sports. First Football then Hockey and now Cricket. The 'boys' did us proud.

However, I found the post match conference very interesting. With Shoaib Malik thanking all the Muslims all over the world for supporting Pakistan and getting all apologetic for letting them down.

“I want to thank everyone back home in Pakistan and Muslims all over the world. Thank you very much and I’m sorry that we didn’t win, but we did give our 100 per cent,” Malik said.

Who is he playing for? He should realize that only a small proportion of all Muslims live in Pakistan and not all of them are interested in Cricket. Incidentally, who would Kaneria play for? I believe the answer would be Pakistan and not a specific religion. Almost all teams today have a mix of multiple ethnic identities in their teams.

I think that religion or faith is a personal thing and that is the way it should be treated. As a captain, he should understand that he is speaking for his team. Even though almost all of his team is made up by Muslims, I doubt religion is the reason why they play. I think the glamour, money and pride in playing for the nation (in that order at times) are the reasons why anyone in the sub-continent would be attracted towards the game.

The seductive powers of Religion and the need to confirm socially has played a strong part in the team dynamics of Pakistan. With Yusuf Youhana converting to Islam from Christianity, Sayeed Anwar sporting the beard and the wide cracks in team structure because of public display of religious beliefs - team Pakistan has seen it all. And not all with great results. It has been a bad year for them (apart from T20) and it would do them some good to concentrate on the game and avoid religious overtones. It has taken some time to reduce racism in the cricketing world and the last thing anyone would want is polarization in the name of religion.

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