Men who didn’t turn the other cheek: Cricket’s kings of controversy
Chris Gayle grabbed the headlines last week when he took on the West Indies cricket board for not including Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the 2015 World Cup squad.
While the board hit back saying it was a decision purely based on performance, the fans cannot help but link it to the much publicised discord between the WICB and its players, which saw Bravo and co. pull out of their India tour last year.
Gayle himself has had an uneasy relationship with the board in the past, most notably when he was kept out of the national team for nearly a year in 2011 for his comments against the board.
But the explosive left-hander is hardly the most controversial cricketer we have seen. Here’s a list of cricketers who have often been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
1. Kevin Pietersen
One of the most attractive strokeplayers of the modern era could have gone down as an English legend, mentioned alongside the likes of Botham, Gooch and Hobbs. Instead, he will probably be remembered as an English tragedy.
If his brashness and arrogance wasn’t enough to tick people off, KP made life more difficult for himself in the summer of 2012 by sending text messages to South African cricketers, mocking and criticising his England team mates. He did make his comeback in 2013, but his Test career never really took off and he ended up becoming England’s scapegoat following the team’s abysmal performance in the return Ashes of 2013-14.
2. Shahid Afridi
There have been three known instances of Shahid Afridi announcing his retirement, and withdrawing it later. Also, there has been one instance of him chewing on a cricket ball and one TV interview in which he made a blatantly sexist remark against female cricketers in Pakistan.
Here’s Afridi’s controversial interview.
Slap-gate, match-fixing and countless on-field antics- the list of Sreesanth’s wrongdoings can go on forever. The talented Kerala pacer never really fulfilled his potential, and his name became synonymous with scandal.
4. Shane Warne
One of the greatest cricketers to have ever graced the game, Warne’s off-field behaviour was the exact opposite of his on-field professionalism. The Aussie spinner had frequent struggles with fitness, alcohol, doping and most notably, his romantic life.
5. Virat Kohli
How can you leave Virat off this list? The bad boy of Indian cricket does not like to hold back his emotions on the field. Be it giving the Aussie crowd the finger, his ugly spat with Gautam Gambhir during the IPL or his routine face-offs with opposition players on the field, Kohli’s mouth does as much talking as his bat.
6. Harbhajan Singh
The ‘Turbanator’ was often one of the most vocal men on the field. He was featured in one of the biggest controversies in modern cricket during the infamous ‘monkey-gate’ scandal during the 2007-08 Border-Gavaskar trophy in Australia. He was also the star of another infamous incident during the 2008 IPL, when he slapped Kings XI Punjab’s S Sreesanth for his aggressive behaviour during the game.
7. Andrew Symonds
Apart from being involved in the infamous ‘monkey-gate’ saga, Symonds routinely struggled with alcohol and discipline throughout his playing career. Most notably, he was sent back from the 2009 World T20 as punishment for a late night drinking session.
8. Ricky Ponting
Punter led Australia by example, both with his batting as well as with his ‘mouthy’ ways on the field. Before going on to become an Australian legend and one of their most successful captains, Ricky had a fair bit of struggle with discipline as a brash youngster, including a drunken brawl that cost him his place in the ODI team in 1999.
9. Sourav Ganguly
The Prince of Kolkata didn’t like it when things didn’t go his way. While his attitude added some much needed spunk to the Indian team and transformed their performances abroad, it also backfired during his infamous tiff with Indian coach Greg Chappell which, coupled with the drop in his form, forced him to step down as captain.
10. Javed Miandad
Arguably the greatest batsman to have ever played for Pakistan, Miandad was involved in one of the ugliest recorded scenes on a cricket field when he raised his bat against Australia’s Dennis Lillee for blocking his path while taking a single during a Test match in Perth.
11. Shoaib Akhtar
Ball tampering, substance abuse and sledging— Shoaib was involved in every possible controversy on a cricket field. The fastest bowler in the history of cricket was banned on different occasions for indiscipline, doping, ball tampering and once, for criticising the PCB.
12. Hansie, Azhar and the fixers
Ever since Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin introduced us to the dark side of cricket, the game lost some of its credibility for the enthusiasts. We have since come across several cases of betting and match-fixing, involving well-known names such as Sreesanth, Mohammad Asif, Salman Butt and Lou Vincent.
13. Douglas Jardine
Cricket has never been the same since the famous ‘bodyline’ series of 1932-33. Many argue that the sport ceased to be a ‘gentleman’s game’ since English captain Douglas Jardine adopted the unsporting tactic in order to tackle the legendary Don Bradman.
14. Andrew Flintoff
His shirtless celebration at the Wankhede (which Ganguly avenged at Lord’s a year later) made him a familiar face in India. But that wasn’t the only controversial incident in the flamboyant Englishman’s career. Early on in his career Freddie was routinely ridiculed for his weight issues. During the 2007 World Cup, he was dropped from the team following a late night drinking session.
15. David Warner
The new-age bad boy of Australian cricket is as feisty with his words as he is with his bat. Aside from his aggressive on-field behaviour and countless ‘send-offs’, the most controversial moment of Warner’s career came during the 2013 Champions Trophy, when he punched England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar. A month later, he was involved in another altercation with a South African player, which he later dismissed as ‘friendly banter’ on his Twitter account.
16. MS Dhoni
Ice-cool MSD has been involved in several ‘silent’ controversies during his career so far. His uneasy relationships with the team’s seniors became public soon after he took over the Test captaincy from Anil Kumble. But the biggest controversy involving him was his proximity to former BCCI President N Srinivasan and the IPL match-fixing scandal in 2013 involving Chennai Super Kings, a team which he has captained since the inception of the tournament.