The curse in cricket, now the race card
Disturbing to see professional Zimbabwe cricketer Gary Ballance has retired after “falling out of love with the game,’’ as the British tabloid press put it.
In truth, he fell out of favour. Cricket fell out of love with him. Gary, 33, former England and Yorkshire county player, was dragged into the highly publicised scandal at Yorkshire County Cricket Club where he was accused of making unacceptable remarks to teammate Akeem Rafiq.
The truly sad part is that the two men had been good friends. Gary had brought Akeem, of Pakistani origin, to Zimbabwe for a holiday, some cricket practice and social knockabouts.
Jeepers, creepers, I have seen Pakistanis themselves wearing tee-shirts saying ‘Paki and Proud.’
But that’s all changed and the P-word, like so many others in the new order of the day, has been hit for six, way beyond the boundary and over the club house. Former England captain Micheal Vaughan, also at Yorkshire, was accused of uttering similar slurs but stood his ground and told his detractors, in essence, to eff off. He was cleared in the end.
A large body of opinion holds that Gary was made a scapegoat at Yorkshire and for long standing institutionalised racism throughout English cricket as a whole.
This opinion also holds that Rafiq kicked up the stink to cover his own growing weaknesses on the field.
Gary marked his return home with an unbeaten 137 when Zimbabwe drew with West Indies in their first Test match in Bulawayo. Soon after, he went on the record saying he no longer felt committed to play professionally because he might “do Zimbabwe Cricket and the game itself a disservice.”
The issue, it seems, did a head job on Gary, did his head in.
But there is life after cricket.
Micheal Vaughan is a commentator, consultant and businessman – in short, a wealthy bloke who got himself a mansion in Bermuda. Politics isn’t advisable – look at what happened to ousted Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. Before he was bowled out and then survived a googly, an assassination attempt that hit him in the leg, he called his cabinet reshuffles ‘changing the batting order.’
First class English cricketers Marcus Trescothic retired after admitting to deep depression from the rigours of the game and the incessant pressure of international travel that it entailed while Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff drew stumps after revealing he had the eating disorder bulimia and had grimly suffered years of troubling ankle injury.
Flintoff went into broadcasting and was hurt in December in what the tabloids called “a horror crash” while filming for the BBC’s daredevil motoring series Top Gear. The papers had him near death then gave him a miracle recovery a little later when he was spotted walking down the street holding hands with his wife.
The Gary Ballance hullabaloo, seized upon so gleefully by the tabloids, shows how our Christian Bible still rings true in the hypocrisy of modern times.
When beholding the mote in thy brother’s eye, first cast out the beam that is in thine own eye.