Sweet victory: Of stubborn stains and whitewashes
One can only visualise the English cricket team sent to the cleaners taking tumbles in a frontloading washing machine as the Pakistan cricket team enjoys the whitewash.
Thanks to stories about Queen Elizabeth (I), who hardly ever took a bath for fear of catching a chill, we already know how much the English hate getting wet. Former English skipper Bob Willis’s comments on the first day of the Test series about Ajmal’s off spin ‘doosra’ action crossing the usual angle and how the ICC could allow such bowling was evidence enough that the visitors wouldn’t take the defeat lying down.
The difference between good and bad losers became even more obvious when a BBC website cornered Ajmal—the star bowler and Man-of-the-Series—for an interview soon after the prize-winning ceremony of the third and final Test. Struggling with his English, the taker of 24 wickets in the three Tests said: “The ICC allowed me to bowl 23.5 degrees because my arm is not good, because of an accident.”
Bowlers are not allowed to bend their arm beyond a 15-degree limit bowling action. But that is not what Ajmal had meant. Still it could have opened another Pandora’s Box had the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) not stepped in with a clarification about what Ajmal was trying to say. (Can the PCB please also arrange for some media person to accompany the boys during such spontaneous interviews?)
“Ajmal was referring to the angle of elbow abduction, i.e., the angle of the upper arm to the forearm extension. This angle is approximately 23 degrees in Ajmal’s case,” said the PCB through a press release, while adding that they have already conducted several tests on the bowler’s action which showed that the degree of elbow extension was well within ICC’s 15-degree tolerance levels.
Lucky for Ajmal that ICC’s General Manager Cricket David Richardson also backed PCB’s stance saying that there was “a big difference” between elbow abduction and the degree of elbow extension. Even ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said that there was no plan for investigating Ajmal’s action.
Hence the advice to the British media would be to look for something else, preferably the faults in their own team instead of pointing fingers at their opponents, for Pakistan won fair and square! After winning the Test series 2-0, only a whitewash could make things even better. And being the first team since 1907 to make a comeback into the game after getting bowled out for under 100 runs, it was sweet victory, no doubt. Though Ajmal was undoubtedly the star, it was complete teamwork that resulted in the clean sweep. The other bowlers Abdur Rehman and Umar Gul, batsmen Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Hafiz, the cool calm captain Misbah-ul-Haq and much-involved coach Mohsin Khan all became the winning combination for the demorlised national side of 18 months ago. And there is more excitement to follow as Boom Boom Afridi joins the team for the ODIs and T20s.
So as the Pakistani washing machine spins and whirrs and the dirt washes away, so do the ghosts of those who stained the gentleman’s sport in this country. People like the scandalous Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, former team manager Yawar Saeed and former PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt fade out in the distance as pure brilliance abounds the field.