I sit down to write my thoughts today – the day after the second quarter finals of the Cricket World Cup 2015. The whole cricketing world knows the outcome by now, and all the controversy that the match has rekindled.
Slightly over a month ago, when the World Cup mission began, I honestly did not expect much from our cricket team. This doesn’t mean I do not support and adore them, but I just felt it prudent to be practical with my expectations. Within a few weeks however, the tigers turned the tables and even a cynical person like me was dreaming up on cloud nine because of this world cup.
We gave most of our opponents a run for their money, and in the end we made it to the knockout stages for the first time since 1999. Not only did we make it, we made it with one game to spare and by knocking out England – a team that has never won anything major but doesn’t let that stop them thinking they’re one of the big names in the game.
In our last first round game against New Zealand, we became the only side in this tournament to bat the full 50 overs against them and score more than 200. All in all, no one can say we didn’t put up a great show and deserved our entry into the quarter finals.
The whole nation looked forward to March 19, 2015. To be honest, almost everyone I knew seemed to have taken the day off to be able to watch the game. In our campus, students came in not for classes, but to watch the game together with everyone else. Even I was there with all of them, watching the game with lofty dreams and aspirations.
But it all came to naught. We were ready to lose. We never expected to come this far, and would have been happy with just putting up a good fight. But all our dreams were shattered with at least two dubious decisions.
First, Rohit Sharma was caught out in a delivery which was promptly dubbed a no ball. Almost everyone who saw the replay contend that it wasn’t the case. Michael Holding, one of the most deadly fast bowlers this game has ever seen, maintains it was a legal delivery. Rameez Raja, no friend of Bangladesh’s, says it was a legal delivery. More interestingly though, ICC’s Hawk-Eye, which records the trajectory of every ball bowled in every match, seems to be missing just that one entry. It is almost as if someone does not want the world to scrutinise that single ball too much. But surely I am paranoid.
In a game like cricket, one chance like that is often all that a batsman needs to make a serious difference. Rohit Sharma went on to make a hundred, and India crossed 300. But this bunch of tigers didn’t know that they could lose. They went out there and started playing their hearts out.
Until someone practically stood on the boundary rope and took a catch. And suddenly we were back in 1915. No cameras, no zooming in, no technology. The umpire just somehow knew Shikhar Dhawan’s feet were not touching the rope, and thus it was an out. Some people are trying to tell us that the umpire was at fault, that Shikhar Dhawan did nothing wrong.
There was once a phrase the English used – “this is not cricket.” It has now lost all meaning after yesterday’s match. It used to indicate the dishonourable and undignified, because cricket used to be an honourable and dignified game. Used to be. Once upon a time.
We do not know why the umpires at such a crucial stage of a tournament would turn out to be this incompetent, unless they are competent and malicious. The general consensus seems to be that India’s dominance over ICC influences the umpire’s decisions. Observing social media from yesterday, it becomes clear that we are not the only nation disgruntled by the outcome.
To be fair, the Indian Cricket team is immensely talented. They will probably win the world cup anyway. I hope they realise that a victory they would have achieved anyway, has now been marred by controversy. The World Cup is more than financial gain. It is an honour. After yesterday, India may get the cup, the financial gain, and the sponsorship deals. But the honour I am afraid, we will have brought back to Bangladesh. In the claws of tigers.
Hammad Ali is a freelancer and an adviser for Bangladesh Math Olympiad Committee, Society for Popularisation of Science in Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Open Source Network.