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Comment is free, sense is sacred

Comment is free, sense is sacred

Here’s to Australia’s bitterness because without it, this victory probably wouldn’t taste as sweet. As it happened, Ian Chappell’s cantankerous ramblings endowed this triumph with a wholesomely saccharine flavour it may otherwise have been devoid of.

There is no doubting that this Australian side does not stack up to those who have dominated this tournament for the last decade. Hence, this victory was in danger of losing some of its rightful appeal. However, Chappell reminded us that it is not just a team we overcame; it is a sickeningly superior attitude that has defined all contests with the Australians. And it is this sanctimonious arrogance that we prevailed against.

Anyone, partial or neutral, listening to the match commentary must have jerked their head in disbelief at some of the fairly provocative comments emanating from Chappell. During our first innings Chappell expressed his philosophical reservations against the signature Shahid Afridi pose. Apparently, Chappell detects an element of selfishness in Afridi’s gesture and fears that it detracts from the achievements of the team.

You know what else Chappell had problems with? Team huddles, of course. This excuse for recreational mingling was considered by Chappell, as a waste of time which is why, during his reign as captain, he would simply write notes on scraps of paper and expect his team-mates to pass it around, always maintaining arms-length distance from one another.

Finally, Chappell also chose to invoke some righteous imagery when he opined that Ricky Ponting would be looking to set the record straight in light of the cloud of scandal circling over the Sydney test match. In Chappell’s eyes, Ponting was the living embodiment of an Arthurian knight riding through the sinister countryside and drawing his fiery Sword of Morality and Shield of Integrity against the depraved humanity which populates his lands. Today, that Sword would be raised against the villainous Pakistanis who had dared sully the name of Australian cricket.

Chappell’s comments were utterly preposterous, bordering on maniacally defensive and bitter.

Afridi’s gesture is emblematic of a broader team ethos. It serves as a rally cry for his charges channeling and facilitating their ascendancy. Afridi is no dummy, despite what his shot selection on the day might suggest. He is fundamentally aware of his aura within the team. They view him as a talisman and when they sense his exhilaration, when they see his energy, it infects them in turn. Afridi’s celebration is not posturing or preening. It is mobilising and empowering.

Besides, give Shahid a break. So what if he strikes a pose? At least his arms and legs outstretched in an “X” looks cool, which is more than I can say for the ballerina-inspired jump by Brett Lee. I thought only cats in cartoons jump in the air sideways and click their heels. In the annals of cheesiness, that could only be topped by a white guy trying to sing a Hindi song alongside an Indian singer. Oh wait.

I fail to see how a huddle during the break is a time-wasting exercise. Is Chappell upset that the Pakistan team isn’t constructively utilising all of the 45 minutes they are given between innings? Is our mid-innings assembly somehow threatening to disrupt the space-time continuum and unleash a wave of destructive energy through a quirk of physics only Chappell is privy to? Team huddles are a historical feature of the game and characterised the conquering Australian side under Steve Waugh. However, in Chappell’s defense, his aversion to the huddle can be traced back to his days in the Australian team post-1977, when all his team-mates ever spoke about in a huddle was the brawl between Ian Chappell and Ian Botham. Twice, mind you.

As for Ponting, I think his recent altercation with umpire Aleem Dar (together with a host of other on-field unpleasantness) hardly qualifies him for the mantle of Defender of All That is Good and Holy that Chappell might want to bestow upon him.

Furthermore, Chappell has no right to attempt to appropriate for the Australians alone the indignity suffered by the match-fixing saga. It is an affront to sportsmanship felt by all Pakistanis everywhere. We are keenly aware of the disgrace our players have brought upon the game and it is our hope to one day come to terms with this ordeal and feel genuinely proud of a team which is worthy of honourably representing our nation. Chappell’s implicit attempt to paint Australians as the only victims of that tragedy, is symptomatic of the self-indulgent imperiousness which typifies Australian cricket.

It is this conceit which has helped elevate a league victory into a defining triumph.

Look, there is no arguing that qualitatively this is not the Australia of 1999, 2003 and 2007. The Aussies are no longer the superpower of our sport and, in a sense, this victory may not carry the meaning it would have a couple of years ago. However, I for one feel that this holds true more for other teams and less so for Pakistan.

The challenges a team like Pakistan faces in every game is hardly limited to the 11 players in the opposing team. More often than not, they are also locked in a continuous struggle against their fragile psyches and the demons of their past. It is this emotional baggage that Pakistan contends with in every game in addition to the more tangible challenges on the field. And it is these hang-ups which elevate a game which should have been a cakewalk for a more composed side into a feat of astronomical proportions for our batsmen.

For all intents and purposes, Pakistan were not playing the Australian side as it currently stands with a miserably out-of-form middle order and a one-dimensional attack. In our minds, we were confronting the ‘notion’ of Australia which has haunted us and the cricketing world for the past decade. And we conquered that perception which still manifests itself in the attitudes of Chappell, Ponting and Brad Haddin.

So when Umar Akmal accepted his Man-of-the-Match award, it was telling that he referenced the Sydney test match, a specter that has haunted Pakistan for almost two years. He admitted his own complicity in that crime and perhaps this was his apology for the trauma inflicted upon the nation as a consequence of his team’s past actions.

It is this humility which will allow us to come to terms with the pain of the last 12 months. It is this humility which runs in perfect opposition to the arrogance of the Australians.

Fittingly, it is this humility which silenced Ian Chappell and the Australian machine.


Farooq Nomani is a Karachi-based lawyer who is willing to represent the PCB for free. He blogs at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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176 Responses to “Comment is free, sense is sacred”

  1. Mustafa says:

    Brett Lee’s celebration looks better than Afridi’s.

  2. Mustafa says:

    One very low paragraph in this:
    “Besides, give Shahid a break. So what if he strikes a pose? At least his arms and legs outstretched in an “X” looks cool, which is more than I can say for the ballerina-inspired jump by Brett Lee. I thought only cats in cartoons jump in the air sideways and click their heels. In the annals of cheesiness, that could only be topped by a white guy trying to sing a Hindi song alongside an Indian singer. Oh wait.”

    If possible, I would advise the author to remove that paragraph from this article.

  3. Wakee says:

    Way to go mate, nice one! as for IAN CHAPPEL i think he is fixated abt Aussies being the World Champs for the past 12 years and the fact that it was Pakistan who defeated AUSSIES in world cup the last time. We were more than enuf capable of thrashing them in 1999 world cup but for ” known ” reasons we didnt:P

  4. Analytical Engine says:

    Afridi should behave like a mature cricketer.Very childish and insensitive of him to pose in that fashion after taking a wicket.Its a gentleman’s game.Ever seen Inzi Bhai(when he was captain) getting half-as-thrilled after his bowlers got him wicket?
    Never!So Boom Boom should learn.

  5. Zafars says:

    are we talking cricket or venting inferiority complexes here?

  6. Manish says:

    Can’t you write this article in simpler English?

  7. disgruntled says:

    I did not listen to Ian Chappel but could not believe myself when Ricky Ponting caught behind to Hafeez tried to exploit the umpiring mistake and refused to leave. Thanks to the referral system, the umpire decision was corrected. Is this the exemplary gentlemanly cricketing behaviour? Fortunately few days later Sachin showed to whole world that cricketing behaviour is not dead when he left the crease without waiting for umpire decision, he was also caught behind to West Indian Rampaul although the umpire has not given him out and the commentators acknowledged that it was difficult even for referral system to declare him out. The readers can draw their own conclusion.

  8. Adnan says:

    I am not surprised by this one bit. This is typical Ian Chappell behavior and a shameful attempt by him to undermine the hard work the Pakistan team has put in over the last few months despite being dragged through the mud with all sorts of allegations and controversies.

    I understand that Chappell is entitled to his opinion as an unbiased commentator no matter how biased it may seem. However, I am of the opinion that Chappell should keep his opinion to himself.

  9. Saad says:

    Two things. You conveyed the message quite well but your english word selection is an overkill. Keep it simple.


    “Afridi’s gesture is emblematic of a broader team ethos. It serves as a rally cry for his charges channeling and facilitating their ascendancy.”

    • I think Farooq Nomani is brilliant though I must admit he was too bombastic for most Pakistanis that knows and speak the simpler version. Farooq write in essay form: perhaps he has tread a lot of Gilbert Chesterton and whenever he finds an opportunity he displays his command of the language. I must confess I enjoyed his article though he made no bones of my fellow countryman.

  10. Shoaib Ilyas says:

    Absolutely agree 100%. I was literally shocked to hear what chappell had to say about afridi. They dont take defeat gracefully. Its afridi’s team, let him handle the way he wants. Why is Ian chappel so concerned about the Huddle or celebration pose.

  11. Faisal says:

    Well written article, though you forgot to mention that Lee was outstanding as a bowler – should give credit where it is due – his celebration jump and Arfidi’s pose are both ok. I don’t think this article says that Ian is a racist because he is not, Australians are generally very proud and supportive of their teams – even football where they are not as good as cricket or rugby.

    Fact is that their current Cricket team is not competitive in sub-continent conditions, hopefully India will beat them as well (assuming we will beat WI) and we will have a cracking Ind-Pak semi at Mohali.

  12. Arifeen says:

    I was enjoying when Ravi Shastri voice shelving & Ramiz Raja voice in bouncing…!

  13. haroon says:

    good work! you need to upload this on cricinfo!

  14. daniyal says:

    A very well written article , hats off to you , and Ian chappeelll on your face.

  15. Ahsan Sami says:

    very well written, i think we’ve had enough if aussie arrogance. i simply hated it when chappell was saying “Ponting would want to :P unish: Pakistan for the scandals over Sydney test”.

  16. Asif Qazi says:

    Majority of the bloggers here are displaying aggressive patriotism. We can disagree with Ian Chappel on this occassion. I have listened to Chappel’s commentary for a number of years and believe he is one of the best commentators in the game. He doesn’t appear to like Afridi’s celeberation but suggesting that he cannot digest Pakistan victory because is anti-Pakistan and racist is ridiculous. Chappel is an outspoken person never afraid to speak up his mind. He regularly criticises the Australian cricketers as well. I have noticed on many occassions he has lavished praised on Pakistani cricketers. He stood up for the cause of refugees when the Australian government was playing dirty politics on the refugee issue and mind you most of these refugees were Muslims. He even had differences with Sir Donald Bradman. You can disagree and criticise his comments but don’t to the level of branding him a racist or anti-Pakistani. Calm down all please. Sports should bring people closer and not the other way.

  17. fahad says:

    why do you use words that are not used in daily life conversation?

  18. Waqas Farooq says:

    Great Work Mr Naumani, We need to raise our opinion

  19. RK says:

    Nah. Pakistan should meet other country in Semifinal. It should be India-Pakistan final. It will be fun after a long long time.

  20. fahad imam says:

    very good article from Farooq Nomani. I have similar opinions abt ian chappel ..he is really baised person .even he is such a baised person tht if some australian will not meet his standard he will not forgive him under his harsh comments. i remember during ashes last year when johnsan was struggling with his bowling and batting in 1 test match due to which he was dropped from 2 test match he was the one only australian who was looking to abolished the career of johnasn ..he dismantled all his remarkbale performances nd just looking to kick him out frm the if he dnt consider any australian during his comments nd standard ten how he can neglet other esp pakistanies who r always threat fr such teams.

  21. Awais says:

    Excellently written my man.

  22. Shahzad Ghaffar says:

    Awesome blog!!!Took the words right out of my mouth!!

  23. Imran says:

    I think we should reply the Ausies by playing the game with sportman sprit and beat them in semis

    Sorry to say that replying in this way is showing our negative attitude, same as the Ausies have

  24. Aun Ali Motani says:

    Their plotting against us is not working, now they are trying to find other ways to make problems amongst the team. Poor Chappel, I respected him though but not anymore!

  25. Wasim says:

    I have admired Chappel for his unbiased views for a very long time and still do but in the PAk-Aus match his comments were OTT.

  26. Farhan Shaikh says:

    Good piece! But precision and brevity are lacking in this taking apart of Chappal.
    I feel Kamran Abbasi on Cricinfo has given a more precise, fitting reply to Chappal.

  27. Fahad Nisar says:

    Chappel has gone crazy.
    Well, its obvious that talent is sacred no matter what cricketing structure you have.
    when Pakistan plays aussies. Its always talent vs mechanics.
    so much money aus board has and with the worlds best cricketing structure, Still they are unable to beat cricket hungry nation Pakistan then this state of chappel is certainly justified

  28. Issaar Salim says:

    C’mon guys! As pompous and unsportsmanlike as the Australians are, Chappell’s comments were NOT racist.

    He does not like Afridi but he backs it up with reasons that we are free to disagree with.

    As Noorani says, Chappell gave an example of his practice of passing notes rather than huddling. It’s his point of view. It’s what he did when he was leading Australia.

    He also does not like Afridi’s celebration when he takes a wicket because he feels that as a Captain he needs to recognize that it’s a team sport and is not all about him. What’s racist about that?

    I’m happy that Pakistan won and that the Australians got their come uppance, but let’s get over the victim bit.

  29. Ali says:

    As always a well written piece! plz accept my congratulations. I agree with Umair Darr.

  30. taimur arif says:

    ian chapel was right regarding afridi i mean come on he is a captain and he himself wants to be in a big picture ,, imran khan or any other captain name it never posed because indirectly it looks like as if you are trying to be prominent and besides when you come after posing like this to bat you are even more irresponsible ,,,and about bret lee he is strike fast bowler how can you compare him with afridi neither is a captain ,,i am saying regarding a captain of a side these things look crazy,,,and if you talk about ian chapel he doesnt spare anyone but at the same time respects the game…he openly he is a great fan of wasim,,waqqr and imran ..if you follow then olease also check his video what he says about imran khan and 1992 world cup

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