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World Cup Cricket: What??

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Well, for most of our American/Canadian friends, cricket usually refers to the annoying insects that keep you up at nights. But, for the rest of the world; well may be I should qualify before saying that: England in Europe, South Africa in Africa, Indian sub-continent in Asia, Australia, West Indies in this Americas. So, for these parts of the world, cricket is a huge game. In India/Pakistan, people worship cricketers, the following being stronger than probably the following by Americans of their MLB/NFL/NBA teams. Probably the fact that there are actually ‘loyalists’ who play for their countries versus mercenaries (no offense intended) in the local leagues here, has something to do with the following and why players are competing for more than money. In this regard, it is more similar to Olympics games than pro sports in America.

So, back to the topic, World Cup cricket started yesterday, kind of in America’s back-yard (well relatively speaking). West Indies, in the Caribbean islands, is hosting it. At one time the host country was the super-power of cricket, today it is a shadow of its former past. For those who care, I’ll be following it for you! A big whoopee for some and a big yawn for most others.

The teams to beat this time are South Africa and the perennial giant, Australia. Pakistan has always had the mercurial team, and while India has 1+ billion people (who worship the sport) to choose its cricket team from, and while it is always a contender, it just doesn’t have the bowling horsepower to get it over the top, in my humble opinion anyways. By the way, bowling is not your bowling in the alleys; it is more similar to pitching in baseball. The similarity is probably because baseball is likely a derivation of cricket (being that Britain influenced American history greatly). The other team that has won the World Cup before is Sri Lanka, and like Pakistan, Sri Lanka has its own history of upsetting the favorites.

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yusuf.JPGNow, there are some interesting ‘Muslim matters’ in cricket. You see Pakistan’s leading batsman (one of the premier batsmen in the world), formerly Yousuf Youhana, converted to Islam in 2005, changing his name to Mohammad Yousuf. The cricket media went into a frenzy, his mother was up in arms, and charges of Yousuf converting under pressure were all over the place. But, if you just look at this guy, and if you look at his enthusiasm for Islam and even his appearance (he sports a bigger beard than anyone else in the team), then you can conclude that when he converted, he felt and meant every bit of it! Now, I should add the disclaimer, that I don’t mean that the beard is the concluding factor for one’s religiosity, but I do mean that his enthusiasm is highlighted by the following of this Sunnah.

After his conversion, and I am not saying there is any direct relationship to this fact, Yousuf has been one of the most prolific batsmen in the world. Yousuf averaged 99.33 runs in 2006, and broke two of Sir Viv Richards’s 30-year old records. Other records he broke this year can be found in this link (if you care).

 

117_sports-hashim-amla.jpgAnother story that broke out not long ago was when Hashim Amla, South Africa’s devout Muslim player, was called out as a ‘terrorist’ by Dean Jones, a former cricket star for Australia, and a commentator for many cricket programs. Jones said, in what he thought was an off-line comment (love it when you catch unplanned bigotry on air): “”The terrorist has got another wicket”. Jones’s comments were condemned worldwide. In Jones’s defense, he apologized profusely and talked to Amla directly. Compare that with what some of the Congressmen can get away with in America (think Peter King), let alone the commentators, this is a pretty decent response.

So, I’ll be rooting for my ‘home-team’ Pakistan, and I’ll be rooting for Amla on the side as well. My bets (no money-all halal!) are on Australia/South Africa making it to the final, and Australia taking it all. Let the best team win!

More info: Schedule here.

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Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Hassan

    March 13, 2007 at 3:59 PM

    Salaam. Amla does not play one day matches, more of a test player. And Dean Jones comments were totally opposite to what he really is. He is the most un-racist and balances person from Australia, and his comment was sarcastic, suggesting how people perceive muslims.

    Anyway Pakistan match is in progress right now, and they are sucking.

  2. Hassan

    March 13, 2007 at 4:02 PM

    BTW, if you want to see today’s match at work for free. open this in media player:

    http://wwitv.com/tt/b3297.asx

  3. Amad

    March 13, 2007 at 8:00 PM

    Ok, my home-team (PK) lost the first game to the host, West Indies. Good and bad. Bad that they lost… good that it kind of keeps Pakistani hopes low and brings them at par with the quality of the team (which is similarly low). It will keep more Pakistanis at work… for the wives in Pakistan tonight, prepare for grumpy husbands :)

  4. Amad

    March 14, 2007 at 12:41 PM

    Amla isn’t playing?? Must be racism :) I guess that removes South Africa from my rooting.

    By the way, one great way to know who are the FOBs on this blog is to see who is following cricket :) !!

  5. Mujahideen Ryder

    March 14, 2007 at 5:40 PM

    WEST INDIES BEAT PAKISTAN!!! WOOO HOOOOOOOOOO

  6. Amad

    March 14, 2007 at 6:56 PM

    Other than MR… who is a pakka ABCD gangster-wannabe :) All he knows is who beat who…

    MR: FOB test for you… what is a stump-out?

  7. Mujahideen Ryder

    March 14, 2007 at 8:53 PM

    First of Amad, i aint no fob
    second of all, im GUYANESE, (Guyana, South America)
    third of all my parents only speak english and reggae english
    foruth of all, me no wha stump out bai, but abadese na call eh dat, abe say “he booowwwlll outtt”

  8. muslimmatters

    March 15, 2007 at 7:12 AM

    Did anyone here of this ruling ;)

    ————————

    Pakistan Supreme Court Ruling
    A seven year old boy was at the center of a courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with the child custody law and regulations requiring that family unity be maintained to the highest degree possible.
    The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him. After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.
    After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the Pakistan Cricket Team, whom the boy and the courts firmly believe are “not capable of beating anyone.”
    ——————
    I would call that judicial activism!!

  9. cricketgal

    March 15, 2007 at 2:13 PM

    Aslaamlalaikum!!

    Jazakallah for that great post…cant wait to be following your blog parallel with sky sports!!

    :D

  10. muslimmatters

    March 15, 2007 at 3:04 PM

      ANNOUNCEMENT:

    Hassan, our FOB buddy from Houston, has agreed to be our “cricket correspondent” for the world-cup. He is an IT professional, and loves to fiddle with cricket and politics (they usually go together). He’ll be updating us with recaps, interesting tid-bits, and Muslim stories…

    Pls stay tuned to this space!!

  11. Hassan

    March 15, 2007 at 3:04 PM

    The second day of world cup cricket produced expected results. Australia thrashing Scotland by 203 runs, and Kenya 2003 semi-finalists (many people forget this) convcingly won over Canada.

    Scotland had a muslim (Pakistani descent) player Rana Majid Haq Khan playing for them. He took 2 wickets and scored 16 runs. But he made news otherwise as well. He covered his sponsor logo, as it was of a beer company. Read it here http://www.dawn.com.pk/2007/03/15/spt10.htm

    Canada had 4 muslims playing for them. They did not do very well, like the rest of the Canadian team.

  12. AnonyMouse

    March 15, 2007 at 3:13 PM

    Noooooooooooo!!!!! How could Canada lose?! We’re Canucks, we can do it!!! *Buries face in hands* Looks like it’s our destiny to suck at each and every sport aside from hockey, lacrosse, and curling… :(

  13. Hassan

    March 18, 2007 at 11:56 AM

    Salaam. For those who have been wodering, why I have not posted anything on updates, well there were 2 reasons.

    1. I was traveling
    2. Pakistan lost to Ireland, a second division team you may say, and hence I was feeling down. Pakistan is out of tournament.

    The tournament so far is going as expected, except this Ireland win over Pakistan, and another important one Bangladesh winning over India. My pain of pakistan lost was reduced considerably, seeing our Bangladeshi brothers winning in style and spirit. Bangladesh has improved a lot over the years, even though they may not go all the way to win world cup (I hope so), but they are definitely there to entertain and play some exciting cricket.

    Anyway, lots is being said and written about Pakistan performance. I would keep you guys posted on any updates.

  14. S

    March 18, 2007 at 6:54 PM

    Well… some people were asking for Woolmer’s (Pakistan’s South African cricket coach) head… but no one wanted to have this end up this way.

    Bob Woolmer collapsed and died, within 24 hrs of Pakistan’s WC demise. It seems that everything around Pakistan’s cricket is falling apart, almost analogous to what is happening on the Pakistani national front with Musharraf’s recent sacking of Pakistan’s Chief Justice, which has led to a crises (see here and here).

  15. Hassan

    March 21, 2007 at 12:10 AM

    A twist in Bob Woolmer’s death. It could have been a “murder”!!!

    http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/wc2007/content/current/story/286445.html

  16. S

    March 23, 2007 at 12:08 PM

    Bob’s death is officially a murder now. He seems to have been pretty close to the Pakistani team. Here is a nice article on Pakistani players’ perspectives and emotions.

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