Hordes of Australians on the social media have promised a mexican wave welcome along the line of the Syndey Harbour Bridge to welcome Izazul Sheikh. (Inset: The Cross of Valour)
Please note this is a humour article — work of pure fiction
In a recent turn of events, Izazul Sheikh was nominated for the Cross of Valour on Sunday. Abhishek Mukherjee lauds the remarkable gesture of the Australian Government dished out towards a man who had been called a fraud in his own country.
The Cross of Valour (CV) is awarded “only for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril”. Since its inception (as a replacement of British George Cross in 1975), there have been only five recipients of the award; no one has been awarded the CV since 2003.
Izazul Sheikh, the man from Salt Lake, Kolkata who had been arrested for siphoning a sum of a million rupees from VVS Laxman’s bank account, has been named for the award after an appeal from Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, and Ricky Ponting that was supported by various others.
Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, stalwarts of Australian bowling over the ages, had joined the mission as well. The Australian Government had initially turned down the appeal on the grounds that the recipient needs to be an Australian citizen to qualify for the award.
As the Government’s announcement came out, the social media erupted in dissent. The outcry led to protests on the Australian streets across the cities. “We consider Sheikh as one of our own,” said one of the protestors at Sydney, who had seen Laxman score 167, 178, and 109 in consecutive innings at that ground.
“That Hyderabadi had been the greatest enemy to our nation,” said yet another enraged demonstrator at The Gabba. “Even champions like McGrath and Warne had failed to subdue him. There had to be someone who would have the guts stand up to this Laxman. It’s a shame that his own country has got him arrested.” She even suspected The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) role in this.
“That Hyderabadi had been the greatest enemy to our nation,” said yet another enraged demonstrator at The Gabba. “Even champions like McGrath and Warne had failed to subdue him.”
Pressured by the vehement protests from the Australian cricketers and demonstrators, the Government finally yielded in the wee hours of Wednesday. It was announced that Sheikh would be granted Australian citizenship first. There have been exchanges between the two Governments since then, and the Indian Government has finally agreed to release Sheikh — especially after most Members of Parliament admitted that they could relate to Sheikh’s action.
Sheikh will subsequently become the sixth recipient of the award after Mr Darrell Tree (in 1989), Mr Victor Boscoe (in 1995), Senior Constable Allan Sparkes (in 1998), and Senior Constable Timothy Britten and Mr Richard Joyes (both in 2003). The cricket fraternity has also nominated his name for the Wisden Australia’s Cricketer of The Year — an award that had been discontinued since 2005-06 after the Australian version of the iconic almanac ceased to be published — as well as The Allan Border Medal.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), meanwhile, has asked for the pin code number of Sheikh’s Indian residence. In a recent announcement ABC Chairman James Spigelman mentioned: “It is time to move on from Don Bradman. It has been ages since someone has rendered such incomparable service to Australian cricket. The ABC PO Box in every Australian state capital city has been 9994 till now. That is something that needs to be changed.”
(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)