Botham had said the Tigers were ahead of the West Indies in the race for the quarterfinals. But Sidhu didn’t think so and said that both birds and cockroaches fly but cockroaches were not birds. Sure they are not. Birds they say are second hand evolving from dinosaurs and all that and that the other guys are a 900-million-year-old all weather and all terrain model still running perfectly and multiplying — also fully equipped to survive any Extinction Level Event including our own, manmade, nuclear holocaust. So some quarters are asking this question: “If we are all finite beings, how do you gauge superiority? Surely, one result of man’s achievement in ‘taming’ the earth is also the destruction of the earth.”
Lest we digress, it has to be admitted that people either like Sidhu or they don’t. He has been called everything — manic, dolt, imbecile, moron, even hysterical. Sidhu mauls ‘the spoken word with a unique, entertaining concoction of mixed metaphors and garbled clichés’, say Cricinfo. True, but it is also true that not every one is entertained.
However, people who thought that after the ICC had found evidence of violation of its code of conduct rules they would punish the guilty party were surprised when Sidhu appeared after just one night of absence. One could almost hear inflamed Sidhu supporters: “What? A slap on the wrist is not punishment enough? You want to cut out his tongue, for heavens sake!” But many wished Sidhu really were there that particular night. India had lost to South Africa and one can only imagine what he would have said about his team’s performance.
He does speak his mind. “That ball went so high it could have got an air hostess down with it. Now, all the balls in the world will be jealous of this one.” Or, “Experience is like a comb that life gives you when you are bald and that’s my standard reply during job interviews when they ask you about you-know-what.”
When asked how he felt after the Bangladesh episode, Sidhu reportedly said: “As uncomfortable as a bum on a porcupine, like a man who cannot find his own buttocks with his two hands, like a one-legged man in a bum kicking competition.”
He does seem to have a behind fixation.
“But then nobody travels on the road to success without a puncture or two and now I have to choose between tightening my belt or losing my pants,” he told anyone who would listen.
Why was Tamim Iqbal so upset with Sidhu? A not-so-reliable source say the two had met once in a party somewhere. Tamim was in a corner talking to an Indian journalist when a tipsy Sidhu walked up to them, leered maliciously at Tamim and whispered in his ears, “Beware of the naked man who offers you his shirt.”
“Wha…what naked man?” demanded a startled Tamin but Sidhu was already walking away, shaking his head and wagging his finger.
Tamim turned to the journalist and demanded, “What’s wrong with that guy? Doesn’t his brain work?”
Others say that’s a tall tale and Tamim was just reacting to Sidhu’s ‘cockroach’ and other denigrating comments regarding Bangladesh cricket. It’s possible.
Sidhu doesn’t take our cricket achievements seriously. On the other hand there are other things he did not take seriously, like the achievements of Shane Warne and Muralitharan for instance during his playing days. The Australian was shamed, warned, shorn and worn after he ran into Sidhu. Murali and his spinner pals also do not have many fond memories of Sidhu the batter and cannot be faulted if they remember the mauling with less affection.
But the ‘cockroach’ affair seems to have shaken him up a bit. Look at how he performs on television after that episode. He irritates everyone perhaps with the exception of Gavaskar, for obvious reasons, and Bhogle because the latter has to keep his wits about him and to his credit changes the topic whenever Sidhu gets out of hand which he does almost each time, which is amazing.
It is incredible how others have to struggle or wait an eternity to get in a word edgewise because old Sidhu is not done with what he has to say. He is easily riled, piquant and seems to hold a grudge. He nearly faints when Imran Khan is mentioned but likes no other Pakistanis. Afridi to him is perhaps just a very big sized cockroach. The poor guy nearly died appreciating Bangladesh after we won against England, so much he had to struggle to sound nice (he probably threw up after the match). The same thing happened when Pakistan won against the West Indies where he almost said that had Imran been captain Pakistan would have won by 10 wickets, or thereabouts.
People who don’t like him say Sidhu is overripe and the next stage is putrefaction. That may be but others say that some people are taking the ‘hate Sidhu’ thing far too seriously that they should remember not only the outlandish and bizarre stuff that our own senior leaders dish out every second day but also the way some of our own fans behaved after the severe beating we got from the West Indies and South Africa.
Bangladeshi fans and officials were not the first to apologise to the WI squad after their bus were stoned by irate (read maddened) fans. The first ones to say sorry were those very august people who had thrown the stones. “Forgive us, guys,” they offered humbly to the shaken West Indians, “we thought this was the Bangladesh team bus!”
So, let’s face it. We shall always have our detractors. On the other hand the wins by our team in this World Cup gave this nation a great boost, mood-wise, great happiness and almost everyone, young and old, including the infirm, celebrated. As usual, the losses devastated the fans because just like the win the losses too were spectacular, stunning actually barring the one against India, We should thus forget about the Sidhus — they’ll always be there and nothing much can be done about it as the slap on the wrist has shown. We should instead rally behind our team as the Australians will be on us soon. After their exit from the quarters in this World Cup they will not be in a charitable mood. I can almost hear it: Do we need charity? No, we don’t. Bring on the Aussies. It’s clobbering time. Let’s get clobbered. Or even slaughtered.
Ishrat Firdousi is a journalist, writer and a cricket enthusiast.