February, 2019

Pakistani TV Drama – Fall & Rise

By Syeda Areeba Rasheed

The year 2018 has proven to be a great one for the Pakistani TV drama sector with some brilliant performances by actors like Faisal Qureshi and Nauman Ejaz. There were some new faces as well like Iqra Aziz, Imran Ashraf and Mohsin Abbas Haider who established themselves as quality actors. Also, we got to watch some of the most heart-wrenching and striking stories on the small screen; stories addressing social issues that were previously considered taboo and usually remained hidden behind closed doors, rarely making it to the national spotlight.


Complacent Cricket

Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan cricket captain, was charged and suspended by the ICC in January for four international games after he was caught by the stump mic making a comment against the South African all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo in the Durban ODI. When Phehlukwayo was batting, Sarfraz was picked by the mic stump calling the all rounder “black guy” in Urdu. After the game, Sarfraz issued an apology on Twitter and the Pakistan Cricket Board also made a statement expressing “regret over the remark made by their captain”. South African captain Faf du Plessis also said that his team forgave Sarfraz for his on-field comment but the ICC still suspended Sarfraz for 4 matches.

The remark by Sarfraz could have been a part of the practice of sledging that occurs in cricket matches all over the world, whether it is a local fixture or an international match. In fact, sledging is an activity that takes place in all sports. The only difference is that other sports competitions are of a much shorter duration than even the shortest form of a cricket (T-20) match which involves up to 240 balls and some four hours of play. The participating cricketers tend to lose their cool and resort to sledging or making snide remarks about the opposing players to get their frustration out. Beyond the T-20 match, cricket players have to endure a whole day of play in an ODI match (one day cricket involving up to 600 balls) and five days of play in a Test match (minimum 540 balls in one day).

Players also resort to sledging to irritate the opposing batsman so that he is out of sorts, does something silly and gets ‘out.’ A cricket player can pass an untoward remark against any player of the opposing team at any place in the playing field. But the closer a player is to the wickets, the more he is in the danger zone. The game of cricket involves placement of wickets or stumps at both ends of the playing pitch (22 yards long). These are three 28 inches high stumps dug into the ground at each end of the pitch. In international matches, a ‘pitch microphone’ is buried into the ground just outside each of the three stumps. Whatever is said by the batsman, the wicket-keeper, the close-in fielders, the bowler and the umpire at the bowling end is heard in the commentary box through these mics. This is what Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan cricket captain and wicket-keeper, was not careful about when he made a comment about the South African batsman Andile Phehlukwayo in the Durban match and his voice was carried to the commentary box and, obviously, recorded.

Sledging is often questioned for the reason that it is not a mark of good sportsmanship and those who indulge in it are simply not playing by the rules. Cricket has traditionally been described as ‘a gentleman’s game,’ but it is clear that tradition has given way to so many ‘un-gentlemanly’ acts and sledging is at the top of the list. The Australian cricket team are said to be the best sledgers in the world though it is also said by some that sledging is merely good-humoured banter. Some critics through, interpret sledging as abuse. At times, comments made as sledges do cross the line. Team captains permit sledging only as humorous attempts to distract the other team. Fast bowlers also use sledging to further add to their aggression. Fast bowler and former cricket captain Imran Khan (now the Prime Minister of Pakistan) has said that his players ‘learnt’ aggression during Pakistan’s 1972-73 tour of Australia. He has talked about Sarfaraz Nawaz who ‘picked up sledging’ from the Australians. On the other hand, former Australian captain Steve Waugh considers sledging as “mental disintegration”.

Australian bowler Merv Hughes has even claimed that it was sledging that brought twenty-five percent of his wickets in his career. Perhaps sledging is more common in Australia because the spectators in that country want “combative cricket’. For Australian spinner Shane Warne, sledging is an “effective cricketing weapon”. Before Pakistan’s tour of Australia in 2004, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq had made it abundantly clear that his players would give back what they got if subjected to sledging. Even then, Pakistani cricketers never used sledging as a cricketing weapon and it was perhaps this complacency that lulled Sarfraz Ahmed into the kind of comfort zone where he never bothered about making remarks against a player of the opposite team and thinking that no one was listening!



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