Pakistan is a country that loves crickets and soap operas. The two coming together is a Pakistani’s wet dream. Everybody loves a good cricket controversy – unless of course it bans any of our bowlers!
Here are the top ten cricketing controversies in 2016 that set the internet ablaze:
Pakistan and India are like the Ross and Rachel of international cricket; constantly embroiled in a will they or won’t they scenario. There were hopes of a series last December but the BCCI secretary dashed all hopes by coming out in January 2016 and claiming that there was no series planned between India and Pakistan for 2016 but that did not help from rumours floating all year in hopes of the return of this intense cricketing rivalry.
The only thing Raheel Sharif did not manage to do in his tenure was ensure a Pakistan-India cricket series.
With every shot fired across the LOC the hopes diminished further. Najam Sethi has already said there would be no series in 2017. We can forgive wars and violence India, but we will never forgive you for shunning Fawad Afzal Khan. How can you look at that face and not want him?
We should sue India just for that but if not I am glad to see PCB at least trying to show some spine by threatening to sue India for losses up to $200 million in potential revenue. India had agreed to play six bilateral series with Pakistan between 2015 and 2022 – none of them have materialized so far.
Guess we are all just waiting for the right mauka mauka mauka mauka mauka
The moment of the year has to be Carlos Brathwaite hitting four consecutive sixes of Ben Stokes to win West Indies the ICC WorldT20 but the controversy. It also gave Marlon Samuels the perfect opportunity to get back at Shane Warne in their ongoing war of words. The two almost came to blows in the 2013 Big Bash and since then Shane Warne has taken multiple digs at Marlon Samuels while commenting on matches. Well, Marlon Samuels dropped the mic with this zinger:
2016 also saw Misbah ul Haq surpass Imran Khan on the cricket most likely to cause a martial law list. Looking at some of their massive girths it comes as no surprise that politicians in Pakistan would be this scared of a few pushups. As the entire world enjoyed the brilliant celebration by the Pakistan Cricket team, the PML-N MNA Rana Muhammad Afzal took offense at the celebration leading to questions being raised in the National Assembly.
Maybe, just maybe, there might just be other priorities our leaders should focus on than a few meagre pushups.
It was not quite Shane Watson vs Wahab Riaz circa 2015 but you do not have to be an expert lip reader to gauge how Wahab Riaz felt about Ahmad Shahzad in the PSL match between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.
They may be playing for Peshawar and Quetta but you can never take the Lahore away from a Lahori boy. It takes a single spark to remember all the days spent doing phadas outside Hot Spot and fighting over girls with boys from other schools. The shodapana was out for the entire world to see.
Frankly, ever since Wasim Akram has retired I have missed a left arm bowler steaming in to bowl and following it up with the kind of language a Lahori stage show jughaatbaaz would be proud to hear.
Staying on Ahmad Shahzad, he has done very little with the bat in 2016 but continued to be popular on social media in Pakistan as Pakistan’s answer to Virat Kohli minus the batting talent. Ahmad Shahzad got trolled when he decided to do a Q and A on twitter.
Even Chris Gayle had some fun with the #AskAhmad hash tag by tweeting “Why not playing for Pakistan? Too much selfie again?”
His interview with ARY sports went viral in Pakistan. He may not play like a cricketer but he still feels he is a super star. Waiting for him to star in HUM TV dramas:
Taskin Ahmed's picture with MS Dhoni's severed head
India and Bangladesh had a turbulent relationship all year as India managed to beat Bangladesh by one run in a thrilling finish in the World T20. Mushfiqur Rahim and most Bangladeshi fans were already celebrating when Hardik Pandya took two in two balls followed by a run out to force a super over and an Indian victory.
Bangladesh was vying for blood by the time the Asia Cup came around. Taskin Ahmad holding up MS Dhoni’s severed head sent the Indian Media into a frenzy but MS Dhoni managed to keep his head and guide India to a victory over Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final.
The 2010 spot fixing scandal remains one of the darkest days in the history of world cricket. Pakistan has still not fully managed to exorcise itself of the shame but one man who seems to have paid his dues and put his past behind himself is Mohammad Amir. Watching him run in and bowl at the home of cricket, the very same venue he left ignominiously six years ago, made most cricket fans in Pakistan giddy at the return of the prodigal sun. Cricket is richer with the return of Mohammad Aamir. All the early signs suggest that Mohammad Amir will make up for lost time with his performances for the nation. We are very excited about his return: Even if that would mean forcing Mohammad Hafeez into an early retirement.
Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali notably threatened to never play with Mohammad Aamir, even walking out of the training camp before the series against New Zealand in January. Sheryar Khan has handled tougher reconciliations in his time in politics and he used all of his acumen to bring them back into the fold. Manly tears were shed and the players managed to hug it out.
BUT eyebrows were definitely raised by the number of dropped catches off Mohammad Aamir’s bowling all year. I am not one to shout conspiracy theories but it is odd to see that many catches dropped – even by Pakistani fielding standards!
India played fiery series against England and Australia this year but Anderson’s comments about Indian pitches hiding Kohli’s flaws seemed to have caused the most uproar. Kevin Pietersen also got in on the action by liking a tweet by Graeme Smith asking Anderson if he was saying that he could only bowl in English conditions?
Cricketers from all over the world have always complained about pitches in India but it was surprise to see an Indian Spinner join in. Even Harbajhan Singh was shocked at how spin friendly the pitches were in India this year!
It seems like a year cannot get over without a Pakistani bowler getting banned on some charge or the other.
It could have been worse, so much worse but cricket fans in Pakistan were on a knife edge for a while after Yasir Shah tested positive on doping charges.
Darren Sammy’s sacking as the T20 may be more controversial and shocking but Chris Gayle’s lewd remarks to a female journalist in Australia put the conversation of sexism in cricket in the center.
Later in the year in an interview with Charlotte Edwardes for Times Magazine, Gayle allegedly told her that hs has a very, very big bag, the biggest in the world and asked her if she thinks she could lift it. Gayle ended it by saying, “You’d need two hands.”
The women’s game is not taken as seriously as the men’s and talk of girls playing cricket in Pakistan seems to bring out the worst in some people, including Shahid Afridi. It is a shame to see such prevailing patriarchal attitudes but it comes as no surprise when one of the leading cricketing super stars in the world feels it is okay to harass a woman just doing her job in front of a worldwide audience.