The mercurial West India all-rounder, Chris Gayle, who has been in the news for his tepid and unimpressive form, has endorsed Pakistan as a safe country. Now there is a problem with that statement at various levels but let’s look at it from a pragmatic angle.
The first observation one would infer is if Chris Gayle has been to that country in the recent past or the last decade. The answer to that is a resounding no. In fact, according to a recent UN report Pakistan is considered more dangerous than the country of Syria. Maybe someone ought to send Chris a copy of that information or prompt him to Google a country’s safety before making such irresponsible statements. Has he forgotten what happened with the Sri Lankan team in 2009? Has he forgotten that India is bludgeoned by Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror?
But the reasons for Chris Gayle’s confidence in the security situation are deep rooted. He played for the Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League and now that his national duties have been exhausted, he has to be content with the cricket leagues. Chris Gayle has been at the forefront of the India Premier League for years now and his statement should not go unnoticed by the franchises who have paid him a king’s ransom to represent teams in the IPL. In fact, he should be reprimanded for calling Pakistan safe for anything, let alone cricket.
Gayle, who is considered one of the fiercest pounders of the ball, has a duty towards those who might take his words seriously and venture into Pakistan and lose their lives. As a role model to millions he has to look beyond monetary appeasement and understand that Pakistan is not even safe for Pakistanis and here he is endorsing cricket to be played in that country.
It is true that Sri Lanka went to play cricket in Pakistan in the recent past and it is also true that if the Pakistani Prime Minister is a former cricketer then efforts to revive the game will be made incessantly. But cricketers are not here to justify or even corroborate a country’s political atmosphere. That is the ICC’s job and it must be remembered that Chris Gayle has made most of his top billing by playing in the IPL.
The recent revelations pertaining to Danish Kaneria and how he was treated for being a minority by his own teammates also give a peek into the bias in the Pakistani dressing room. Former Pakistani great, Shoaib Akhtar went on national TV and recounted how Danish Kaneria’s career was destroyed just because he was a Hindu in a predominantly Muslim team. Maybe Gayle forgot to read this bit of information that rocked the cricket community across the world.
If cricketers have to endorse anything by way of social media or any other platform, then the accountability of their statements is solely theirs. Chris Gayle has not only undermined India’s continuous efforts to declare Pakistan a terror state but he has also mortified the hand that fed him for so long. A serious relook into his place in the IPL should be mandated. This time around he was not able to clear the park.
Vineet Malhotra is Consulting Editor and prime time anchor with NewsX.