I had stayed awake for the IPL Auctions for one reason and one reason only. And that was to watch live my favorite team KKR display its razor sharp acumen in the same way that it does every year. They did not disappoint me of course—– buying, at the highest possible price, Shane Bond, who was cannon fodder last time he played in the ICL and whose propensity for break-downs reminds of the song from Kishen Kanhaiyya ‘Band ke saath o Mama, tum break dance dikhlana, breakdown ho jaaye, par tum break lagana” . I am sure SRK must have had his reasons—maybe someone told him to invest in bond markets, maybe his kids love James Bond and he bought Shane Bond by mistake, maybe he will have a “My Name is Bond/My Name is Khan” tie-in or maybe the auction theory experts that KKR hired just felt this was a game-theoretically proper decision. I was kind of hoping for those that favored Butt and Gayle to see the wisdom in getting Poleard and Pornell. But what to do?
But the KKR-fun was dwarfed by the other story of the night. No I am not talking about Bangalore once again playing its cards excellently but of the mass thappad given on the faces of the Pakistani players. Now putting on my unemotional, rational hat this was something that could totally have been avoided. The franchisees and the IPL administration knew very well, beforehand, the security implications of having Pakistani players on team rosters. Given that, there was no need for this drama. There was nothing to prevent the IPL bosses from politely saying no to the PCB like last time, citing inability to guarantee security, except of course their own vacillations and the divergent pulls of different considerations (the Pakistani market vs the possibility of incidents). If the IPL had acted, firmly either way, this tension need not have been created, a sad of state of affairs that puts on the backfoot track 2 diplomacy attempts between the two countries.
Now since we are talking about a country who about a year before butchered our citizens and who allow the perpetrators of that crime against humanity to walk their streets amidst adulation and approbation, allow me to throw my rational hat onto the dust.
Let me tell my readers this. If you want peace and harmony and political correctness, go to the Aman people.
For those that havent left yet, here is what I felt when none of the franchises bid for Pakistani players. I felt happy. Perhaps unintentionally and through pure mismanagement, the IPL franchises have done what our government could not pull of. It has given a resounding slap– jiska goonj bahoot din tak sunaai dega. Without the embarrassment of troop-buildups from which everyone and their uncle knows that nothing will come out of.
This snub has drilled into Pakistan that thing that burns them up so much. Namely that “India call the shots because they have the money”, the extent of which can be realized when Parnell, hired for the Delhi Daredevils for 610K USD, says that his idol is Ashish Nehra. Yes that’s the extent of India’s financial muscle.
If we had had a quiet word with the PCB before the auction, I am quite sure that Afridi and the likes would say ” We are not for sale. The IPL is not challenging. The KFC Big Bash was a better tournament. Plus we want to concentrate on our country commitments” and Pakistani supporters would say “We care a shit for India.” Now of course with the sight of Afridi and the gang standing on the street side in leather skirts and heels and pouting desperately, hoping to be picked up, and with the Indian franchises driving past them without rolling down their windows, even Pakistanis, who otherwise say that they defeated India in every war they fought with us, will find it a bit tough to spin this as a “glorious Pakistani” victory.
Some may say that these people were participating in the IPL as individuals and not as representatives of the country. I would disagree. It is because of their performances as representatives of Pakistan that they are being considered for selection. Some may say that these are some of the best players in the world and demand a minimum amount of respect. Well from a personal point of view, for this group of players, I have little sympathy. If this included Wasim Akram, my all-time favorite idol, I would perhaps react differently because for me, he is simply the greatest bowler I have seen and I don’t care where he is from. Yes I know. I am not being consistent here. But didn’t I just throw my logical cap on the ground?
And what makes this so entertaining has been to see the reactions of Zaheer Abbas and Abdul Quadir and of course our eternal favorite, Javed Miandad, who has been frothing so much at the mouth asking for ICC to take-over the IPL and then articulating the national fear of India when he says “I fear a day will come when world cricket will be run by India alone, so I fear if Australia, England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies don’t realise this, world cricket will be at the mercy of India.” in such a transparent expression of unbridled jealousy that one cannot but smile. And what makes one laugh out loud is when the man who has married an offspring into the family of the biggest mafia in the world calls IPL a “mafia”
Fear not. Just get Kasab to claim that Afridi is an Indian by the name of Dhwajadhari Basu Bhowmick and the problem is solved.
But till that happens, to paraphrase Mithun-da from “Classic Dance of Love” —“Yeh snub naheen, humare krodh ka rang hai. Chatega isse?”
[Reminder: Please do try to attend the Delhi book event if you can.]