Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

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)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 23, 2014  at Dubai

Chennai Super Kings won by 7 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 72 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Chennai Super Kings won by 93 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Delhi Daredevils won by 4 wkts

Photos

CSK vs DD, IPL 2014 Match 8 at Abu Dhabi

Videos

IPL: Tanmay Mishra talks shows the contents of his kit

Sachin Tendulkar — One of the hardest terms to optimise for any SEO professional

Sachin Tendulkar changed the fortunes of cricket journalists in India

Sachin Tendulkar — the greatest batsman of India

Sachin Tendulkar: A timeless fairytale

Sachin Tendulkar: The child, the father, but sexy? Not quite

Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils Glenn Maxwell India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab KXIP vs SRH KXIP vs SRH 2014 MS Dhoni Rajasthan Royals RR vs CSK 2014 Sanju Samson Sunrisers Hyderabad

IPL 7: Glenn Maxwell motivated by criticism from Australian coach Darren Lehmann

IPL 2014: Lakshmipathy Balaji believes sticking to basics is very important

IPL 7: Mohit Sharma happy to bowl alongside Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashish Nehra

Sachin Tendulkar turns 41, celebrating birthday away from cricket field

IPL 2014 set to break all records

Happy birthday! A bouquet of CricketCountry’s best Sachin Tendulkar features

Sachin Tendulkar – The century of centuries in tweets

Sachin Tendulkar — One of the hardest terms to optimise for any SEO professional

Sachin Tendulkar changed the fortunes of cricket journalists in India

Happy Birthday, Sachin Tendulkar — The lesser known records

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Apple Q2 2014 earnings: 43.7 million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads sold

Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Aamir Khan appeals everyone to vote

Apple iPhone sales in India grew 55% year-on-year

Lok Sabha Elections 2014: Tens of thousands gather for Modi nomination

Police raids BJP leader Giriraj Singh’s home to arrest him

Happy birthday! A bouquet of CricketCountry’s best Sachin Tendulkar features

Varun Dhawan, happy birthday!

IPL 7: Mohit Sharma happy to bowl alongside Ben Hilfenhaus and Ashish Nehra

Also on cricketcountry.com