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A game of bet and bull?

Yet another nail in cricket's coffin as three Pakistan players, one agent and one journalist take centrestage in London, where a trial is on to establish corruption charges and conspiracy to cheat. The game has changed forever as the new lingo shows. Hemal Ashar brings you the new A to Z of cricket

A First, it stood for bowling attack. Today it stands for attorneys and lawyers. Seems like the players have more need of those, than cricketing skills.

B Bat and ball? Forget it. Talk betting and bookies. These seem to have infiltrated the game. There also seems to be another one -- brackets. Games are fixed in brackets these days. What is going on, really?


Warn-ed: Shane Warne and Liz Hurley are cricket's latest glam couple.
For better and for worse and this time, maybe for good?

C It stood for cricket, plain and simple. But life and the game, is not that simple. C stands for courts now. Currently, the drama is being played out at the Southwark Crown Court in London.

D Delivery. In cricket parlance, that is a ball bowled. Currently, D stands for Deals. That's what the game seems to be all about these days, player deals, book deals and betting deals. Hum deal de chuke sanam. 

E Effort. Just a harmless word - effort, which meant how much effort was the player putting into his game has been replaced by the deadlier one, evidence. Recorded conversations and covert operations all designed to collect evidence to nail them.

F Stood for fans. That is why they played the game, they are the lifeline of the sport. That lifeline is threatening to choke thanks to fixing. Ever since Hansie Cronje spilt the beans, cricket and fixing seem to go together.    


In the past: Kapil Dev had cried on national television during an
interview in the wake of the fixing scam, several years ago

 
G The bowler lets loose a googly to flummox the batsman. That g though now stands for gangs. Gang wars and gangsters are the latest in the cricketing lexicon. The bible of cricket, the Wisden should think about that. Imagine Dawood gets more play than the real Don and shady sidekicks collect money on behalf of  their bosses who run betting rings. Geez, this is cricket.     

H Could refer to hoick. The massive swing by a batsman that sends the ball to some distance. In these troubled times, remember Hansie,  Hansie Cronje former South African skipper who was caught by the Delhi cops and whose fixing revelations turned cricket upside down.

I International Cricket Council (ICC) cricket's world governing body. Today, it may stand for of all things for Iceland. Reports state that former Indian Premier League (IPL) boss Lalit Modi plans to get citizenship of Iceland (!) Modi's not speaking but that is what cricket is these days - Intrigue.  Yet another I    

J Jonty Rhodes, the mercurial, carrot-topped fielder who defied gravity as he flew through the air, stopping boundaries. J now stands for Justice can the aggrieved fans get justice for some of the con games they have sat through?


Butt, we're innicent: Salman Butt (R), Mohammad Asif (L) and
Mohammad Aammer (C) three charged with corruption offences
AFP PHOTO

K Key moments in the game, that was one of the favourite commentator phrases. Currently, K stands for Kaput. That's what a fan's faith and trust - already brittle after earlier fixing allegations, has gone kaput. How many times will cricket rebuild the faith? 

L Loser. Earlier cricket was a game of win and lose. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Now, it is about Lucre. Big money, crores and more  Is nothing sacred anymore? Not even the religion of the Indian people -- cricket.

M Mercurial. The adjective often used to describe  quick movers on the field. M though now stands for so many things -- Mazhar Majeed, player agent. Mazhar Mahmood the journalist and of course, mon- ey. Once speed and now greed.

N No balls. A harmless enough term, meaning that a bowler has overstepped while delivering the ball. Today, no ball is central in the fixing trial with allegations that  players were paid to deliver no balls. What a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. 


Flying through: Jonty Rhodes former South African cricketer has
spoken out about the current fixing fracas rocking the world

O Over. Six deliveries in an over, is an over, is an over. The big O in cricket now is Operation. Sting operations, undercover operations or whatever. The game and its players need radical surgery in honesty. Does anybody know a surgeon who specializes in matters of the conscience?   

P Players, the cricketers who played the game while we watched. Today, the word is Pakistan. The country, perpetually embroiled in controversy takes centrestage during the current scam too. Pak, now no more whining about conspiracy theories and playing the victim. Let the trial speak.

Q Quit. Regularly heard in any sport - so and so has quit the game. Today it stands for Qayyum Commission, which was formed by Pak earlier to investigate fixing. Never fully implemented, it is now relegated to the backburner. The ICC's Anti-corruption Unit needs to step in to save the game. Quickly. Another 'Q' that is.    

R Runs. Those numbers on the scoreboard that put you in the record books. R also stands for Revelations, deep and dark, startling and shocking, made in a courtroom as cricket followers hear about plots, devious secrets and dubious deals. These are as straight as jalebis and put spy thrillers in the shade. 
SWhat else but swing bowling? Sting. A sting operation by a journalist has set the cat amongst the pigeons this time. Now, players need to watch out more for stings than swing. A sad commentary on our times and the game, when skill takes second place to all the shady side business going on. 


Speaking out: Manoj Prabhakar (l) was one of the first to speak out
about fixing. M Azharuddin (r) was banned

T Twenty20. It was cricket's new age avataar - fast and furious for a slam-bang generation, which has little time for the nuances of the game. T this time, stands for Threats from the underworld, from agents, from plotters and those who claim they can make millions from the game. 

U Understanding. Players were complimented on their wonderful understanding of the game. He reads the game so well, signified high praise. Who talks understanding these days? Now, it is about the underworld and undercover, under the table, sinister claims that make cricket more a field of gangsters, smugglers, looters and thugs rather than a game. What next? A murder in broad daylight on the cricket field? Don't put it past them. 

V Venues stood for places where matches were going to be played. They gave rise to debates about the state of the pitch. Presently, it stands for slippery substances like Vaseline. They are slipped into players' hands it is alleged during breaks allowing the ball to swing. Do not be surprised to find cricket attire-shod detectives pretending to be the twelfth men during drinks breaks, one of these days, watching out for Vaseline and more.

W The Wisden is the Bible of cricket, with a record of history made on the field. Today W stands for war, matches now resemble war, with anti-aircraft guns and anti-terror devices dotting grounds and security measures designed to choke the life out of the spectator. Skies above grounds become no-fly zones. It is only batsmen who can take the aerial route.   

X X-rated. Earlier, players and their bedroom sagas would be termed X-rated. Now, in these wicked times, that is too tame. Yawn... who cares about who bowled a maiden over? except perhaps when it is Shane Warne. The Aussie leggie still regales the world with his sexting antics. Now, it is Elizabeth Hurley who he is engaged to. Sigh. When the entire cricket world is in tumult, Warnie's fixing other kinds of matches.       

Y Yearly schedules of cricketers have been packed to the brim, as there are no clearly defined cricketing seasons any longer. Y though stands for Yuvraj, dragged into the current controversy with agent Mazhar Majeed claiming to know him. As if Yuvi was not controversial enough, the sensationally talented player has this to contend with. Yuvi, ask mommy what to do now.

Z Zero, or out for a duck. The ultimate ignominy for a batsman, is the sound of timber shattering behind him before the scoreboard starts ticking. Now, though, if allegations continue to fly thick and fast and fixing smears only get more stubborn, spectators would prefer to ZZZZZ take a nap rather than watch a fix � oops six.

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