The Leading Edge

Chickens come home to roost in the game of 'gentlemen'

19 May 2019 - 00:01 By Telford Vice

Four Sri Lanka players are charged with fixing in five weeks. Shahid Afridi reveals himself as a fascist who has banned his daughters from playing sport outside. Jonathan Agnew repeatedly uses the original c-word to attack a reporter.
Maybe it has to do with Donald Trump lowering the standard of human decency, but you have to wonder why cricket is rivalling boxing for junk in the trunk.
News that the ICC were adding charges to those already being faced by Dilhara Lokuhettige broke on April 4. By May 11 he had been joined in the dock by Nuwan Zoysa, Avishka Gunawardene and Sanath Jayasundara - not to be confused with Sanath Jayasuriya, who was himself charged last October. Even Sri Lankan ground staff have been implicated.
Soon it's going to be easier to list the Sri Lankans who aren't suspected of dodgy dealings than those who are. The lesson for the suits in all countries - CSA, are you listening? - is to recognise that cricket starts and ends with the players' belief in the integrity of the game. If they lose faith in cricket, and act accordingly, cricket loses everything.
Afridi's autobiography, Game Changer, includes the disturbing passage: "They have permission to play all the indoor games they want, but my daughters are not going to be competing in public sporting activities.
"The feminists can say what they want; as a conservative Pakistani father, I've made my decision."
He batted like a Neanderthal. Now we know he thinks like a Neanderthal. Worse, he blames being a "conservative Pakistani father" for his bizarre and damaging illogic. What chance Gift of the Givers can swoop in and rescue his daughters from this monster?
Agnew, the BBC's Mr Cricket himself, didn't like how he was portrayed in a piece by the Independent's Jonathan Liew, and responded in a string of text messages by calling Liew "f**king disgraceful" and "a racist", demanding that he "apologise now", wielding the word "c**t" three times - once in capitals - and asking, "Who the f**k are you?"
The Beeb reprimanded Agnew and he resigned from the Cricket Writers' Club, but not before complaining to it in writing about Liew, who has since received an apology from Agnew.
All boxing seemed able to do to grab a headline while all that was going on was Tyson Fury having a go at Anthony Joshua: "The big fights ain't happening for him. He needs to grow a set of nuts and step up to the plate instead of talking about fighting the heavyweights. People are sick of hearing all the same stuff with him. Grow up and fight somebody."That makes for decent copy, but it's not corruption, potentially criminal parenting or an ego deflating loudly that cricket has gifted sportswriters recently.Where do we go from here? Nowhere, of course. Cricket forgives fixers - many South Africans still refuse to believe the plain truth that Hansie Cronjé was a crook - and its baked-in conservatism means it wouldn't dare take issue with how a player raises his children.As for Agnew, that's what happens in the weirdness of a media world in which some people are led to believe they're more important than others. Will anyone dare to mention this pathetic little war when the World Cup starts?Despite the fact that Agnew and Liew will be in the same press boxes and the same dining halls, probably not. Sad.

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