Allegations, counter allegations, personal attacks, an FIR, even accusations of match fixing — the mess surrounding Mohammed Shami’s personal life has now become a reason for a brand-new controversy in Indian cricket.
After being accused of adultery and domestic violence by his wife Hasin Jahan, speedstar Mohammed Shami was first denied a central contract by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and in a latest development, the Kolkata police has charged him under some serious sections of the Indian Penal Code, including attempt to murder, which is a non-bailable offence. As a result, currently there is a dark cloud looming over Shami’s cricketing future.
The 27-year old last represented the country in the recently concluded Test series in South Africa, in which he was India’s highest wicket-taker (though he did look out of sorts in the first two Tests). In fact, in the past year and a half, arguably, he has been India’s best pace bowler in red-ball cricket. Hence, purely from the cricketing point of view, this has to be the most unfortunate scenario for the Indian cricket fraternity.
However, till date, there has been no official reaction from the board on this entire issue, but unofficially, the BCCI has made its stand on the issue quite clear. It has been learnt that the senior board officials, especially the CoA, is not favour of having a centrally contracted cricketer against whom a non-bailable warrant may be issued at any moment.
“The BCCI has taken cognisance of all the reports emerging about Mohammed Shami’s personal life. It is purely a personal matter and the BCCI has nothing to do with it. However, keeping in mind that the woman in question has met the police commissioner of Kolkata, it is only prudent on BCCI’s part to wait for any official inquiry to take place. Hence Mohammed Shami’s name, for the time being, has been withheld from the central contracts that were announced. We would like to reiterate this decision has nothing to do with Shami’s merit as a player, but it is a safeguard in the prevailing circumstances,” an unnamed BCCI official told PTI.
The author here believes, despite all the cricketing prowess of Shami, this move by the Indian board is completely justified. Yes, according to our legal system, he is not guilty until proven, but here we are dealing with serious allegations of physical and mental torture as well as questionable financial transactions involving foreign citizens, not just mere adultery. Hence, BCCI, as an employer, is well within its right to adopt a wait-and-watch policy.
Recently, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) set an example by keeping Ben Stokes, arguably the most important member of their Test side, out of the Ashes squad as the all-rounder was facing a Crown Court trial on a charge of affray. He was allowed to rejoin the team in the ongoing ODI series in New Zealand only after pleading ‘not guilty’ during the latest legal proceedings.
Similarly, Shami needs to sort out these allegations first before getting back on the field.
We need to understand that in our country these cricketers are considered as the biggest role models. Hence, with due respect to the privacy which they deserve in their personal lives, the author feels there are certain ethics which they need to maintain, even when they are not on the field. So, if it gets proved that Shami has done something unethical or criminal, then he should face the consequences as well. And they should be severe.
In hindsight, if he is innocent and resolves this issue either in court or outside, there is every chance he is going to get the Grade B contract that he was supposed to receive.
So, it seems the man in question has some tough few weeks ahead and mentally, these situations can take a toll out of any individual, even if he is a public figure. We have learnt that from the scandal involving Tiger Woods.
It is a pity for Shami, as well as for Indian cricket, that the entire controversy has arisen when the bowler is in the middle of the most productive phase of his career. Besides, this year India are scheduled to tour England and Australia followed by the World Cup next year, where Shami is expected to play a huge role in his team’s gameplan. If he is not available for selection, then it will be a huge blow to India’s chances.
However, when the allegations are as series as Jahan has mentioned, then we need look beyond Shami’s sporting excellence and have to accept whatever the court decides.
As outsiders under present circumstances, we can only hope for a less dramatic end to this fiasco.