Home > Features >

Monty Panesar and cricket’s ‘moral’ hypocrisy

At the end of the day, cricketers are professionals who on bad days, can have emotional turmoils. Monty Panesar just had a one of those days © Getty Images
At the end of the day, cricketers are professionals, who on bad days can have emotional turmoils. Monty Panesar just had one of those days © Getty Images

Monty Panesar was once again in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Abhishek Mukherjee tries to explain why the media has been unusually harsh on him.

Monty Panesar has made the news again, this time for a reason that could not exactly be classified as renal. Hours after their humiliating defeat in the recently concluded Ashes Test at MCG, Panesar had apparently chatted up an American backpacker (who goes by the name of Alison) using Tinder, a mobile dating app, and had invited her to his room.

Much has been made of the issue since, which leads us to the obvious question: Has Panesar really done anything wrong?

India in the 1960s used to be a different place. “India’s first great spinner [Subhash Gupte] – if we classify [Vinoo] Mankad as an all-rounder – ended his career because he happened to share a room with a man who wanted a drink with a girl. Only in India could it have happened,” were Mihir Bose’s exact words in A History of Indian Cricket.

Kripal Singh, who had been sharing room no 7 with Gupte at the Imperial Hotel in Delhi, had asked the hotel receptionist out for a drink. A misunderstanding ended Gupte’s Test career (it should have ended Kripal’s instead), but what stood out were Gupte’s words: “Kripal [Singh] had not raped the girl or assaulted her, he just asked her out for a drink.”

The media had been after Ian Botham after his encounter with Lindy Field (former Miss Barbados) and a broken bed during a 0-5 “blackwash”. He had received a three-month ban as well, but that was for smoking cannabis. Cricketers, as sporting icons, have had their share of glamour and attention as far as the fair sex is concerned, and romance and other personal aspects of cricketers have often been dissected by and commented upon by the public.

Botham was neither the first nor the last cricketer to be involved in a relationship. Much has been made of Shane Warne’s affairs, real or otherwise, and whether Virat Kohli had met filmstar Anushka Sharma on his return from the defeat in South Africa.

Let us consider, for example, a computer engineer (to select a random profession). Let us assume that he has failed to meet a deadline, and has caused his organisation a heavy financial loss. While the organisation has suffered, the person in concern is not expected to be in the best of moods either.

Would we really blame a person if he, out of exasperation or for some other reason, decides to date someone on an evening when he has been in utterly fragile state of mind? If not, should we actually point fingers at poor Panesar? He wasn’t, after all, trying to do something illegal or immoral: he was merely trying to find a companion who might have turned his woeful evening into a better one.

What we are trying to say is this:

 

Normal person after a bad day: Will you come up to my room?

 

Other person: No.

is correct, while

 

Cricketer after a bad day: Will you come up to my room?

 

Other person: No.

is not.

How can a cricketer ask a woman out after he has lost a Test? Should he not be focusing on the sport instead? Now, had he been a salesperson or a programmer, it would have been a completely different aspect, since there are certain things in life a failed cricketer is not supposed to do but people in other professions are perfectly eligible to.

A year back, Panesar had been instrumental in England’s first series victory on Indian soil after 28 years. With Graeme Swann’s exit, one might have expected him to be the frontline spinner for England, but he was axed, somewhat brutally, after the MCG debacle. Coincidence? Maybe. Logical, given that Panesar was the automatic successor to Swann? No.

We sometimes tend to forget that cricketers are human beings, just like any of us. They toil as hard as any of us and go through the same emotional upheavals as we do throughout our careers. They are almost always under severe pressure – from the opposition, from competing teammates, from the Boards, from the fixtures, and from a life lived out of suitcases.

We can choose to like or dislike them. That is entirely our choice. Everyone has their players of choice. There is nothing wrong with that. Even Don Bradman had his critics. What is perhaps not right is the exercising of our rights to pry into their personal lives as long as they do not do anything illegal (which is something Panesar has himself done earlier in his career).

Till then, let us at least give them the privacy to spend a tormented evening the way they want to. Would we have liked if we have been bashed by the opposition, had a bad day ourselves, were under the pressure of being axed any moment, and then – when we sought solace for the evening, a big mess had been created about it?

That is perhaps a question we would not like to answer.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Ravindra Jadeja knighted by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II

India’s win over England in 2nd Test at Lord’s: Twitter reactions

Ishant Sharma pummels England into submission as India clinch Lord’s Test by 95 runs

Ishant Sharma registers name at Lord’s honours board, takes 6 wickets in 2nd Test against England

Bhuvneshwar Kumar England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014 Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan 2014

Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe in 3rd ODI at Bulawayo by 2 wickets

Shaminda Eranga ruled out of 2nd Test against South Africa due to hand injury

England retain Alastair Cook as captain; Jos Buttler replaces Matt Prior

Sachin Tendulkar says he predicted India’s victory against England in 2nd Test at Lord’s

Sachin Tendulkar expected to play special part Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

Ishant Sharma: The enigma who takes key wickets

Statistical highlights of India vs England 2014, 2nd Test at Lord’s

Ishant Sharma’s email inbox after the Lord’s Test match against England

Ishant Sharma’s house targetted by fans after expecting another failure

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Know Your Exercises – Double leg butt kick

Sachin Tendulkar expected to play special part Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

Ram Naik sworn in as UP governor

Telecom stocks ring in gain; Nifty zooms 84 points

Jaguar XJ manufactured in India launched for Rs 92.10 lakh

Nvidia Shield Tablet powered by a Tegra K1 processor announced

Diet Tip #23 – Switch to rice bran oil for better health

Rahul Bose brand ambassador of biggest school contest

Pyaar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyaara Pyaara: Monica Khanna aka Payal in a secret relationship?

Sachin Tendulkar says he predicted India’s victory against England in 2nd Test at Lord’s

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here