Why can’t a leg-spinner who didn’t commit the crime throw a lifeline for his life?
It cannot be denied that cricket is the most watched sport in the country. Players who reach the national team become icons overnight and almost immediately have the ability to inspire large parts of the country. Their words and actions matter, more.
Denmark Canary is one of the best cricketers the country has produced. Only the second Hindu to represent Pakistan, his leg magic moved him to number four on the all-time list of highest wicket takers in Test matches for the country. Fast bowlers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan, three legends of Pakistan cricket, are the only ones ahead of him in this list. He has clearly cemented his place among the top cricketers in the country in terms of achievements. The long format of the game became his standard angle where he took 261 wickets in just 61 Tests. To put things in perspective, the legendary Abdul Qadir, known as the best leg spinner Pakistan has ever produced, took 25 wickets less than Kaneria despite having a longer career and playing more games.
Unfortunately, in 2012, Canary prohibited for life by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for “involving” Essex player Mervyn Westfield in an act of graft. Kaneria’s career ended without actually committing a crime due to the allegations of an accused cricketer. Improper actions, especially those that can be classified as crimes, should not be punished, especially in the case of Kaneria, since his actions confirmed the outcome for another outstanding work. However, a higher perspective needs to be observed while imposing punishments for any crime.
Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt and recently Sharjeel Khan have been given second chances after bringing the game and adding, the whole country, shame. Their actions tarnished Pakistan’s reputation around the world and even then, all four have been allowed to return to the game. In fact, even Westfield, who accused Kaneria of installing the material, only received a five-year sentence as opposed to the lifetime ban given to Kaneria.
Pakistan has no history when it comes to including players from minority groups in the national set-up. The most famous person from a religious group that represents Pakistan is Yousaf Youhana, a Christian who later converted to Islam, and uses him well from the lens that we are focusing on.
Kaneria’s time in the team could have been used to promote the role of minorities, their contribution to society and the challenges facing this country. His role as a cricket icon, in a country that literally breathes cricket, was able to pave the way for other talented players from smaller groups. However, Kaneria’s journey was not as approved as that of his Muslim counterparts. His achievements, at least before he was banned, should have had a proper guarantee. However, a foot-spinning of his genius and his class went unnoticed and unappreciated.
Pakistan’s leading batsman, Shoaib Akhtar recently clarify on Kaneria’s character as a Hindu to a Pakistani Muslim, a film that was the worst. He explained how the dressing room was a place of discrimination, and a player (he chose to remain anonymous) even complained about Kaneria eating from the same plate. Pakistanis reacted as expected and Akhtar faced a lot of pressure for just speaking the truth. Akthar’s result backfired, trying to bury a good example of racism and discrimination in the cricketing world.
This incident reinforced what many of us already know, that Pakistan is not a place for minorities and that some demons, such as intolerance and discrimination, are too big to even local cricketers are afraid to raise their voice against them.
The sad state of the country remains today. We aim to bury the barriers of discrimination. Rarely do we acknowledge the plight of young people who can break the glass ceiling and make a name for themselves. After all, Kaneria will have to break through seemingly insurmountable barriers to get his name in the hat for national selection, especially considering he didn’t have that status at the time. such as the Pakistan Super League (PSL). However, we know very little about Kaneria’s journey in the world of cricket as we did not think it important to highlight the same when he was in his prime.
The leg-spinner now has no way of earning money to live but the proven players like Amir, Asif, Butt and Sharjeel are busy expanding their careers, earning millions in many 20-20 leagues including the PSL, appearing on many televisions respected analysts, and so on. Canary will always be the most missed opportunity by Pakistan cricket, an opportunity that can be used to strengthen our youth groups and show a good image of Pakistan. His achievements during his prime should have been celebrated and not pushed under the rug when he made mistakes.
He may be responsible for his current fate, but perhaps we as a society are also to blame. It is not too late to acknowledge his plight, difficulties and his service for his country. His match-winning innings is certainly more than a simple pat on the back and if he can bring back into the fold the Muslim cricketers who are struggling in four corrected, why can’t a leg-spinner who has not committed the crime, at the very least, throw a lifeline?
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