Cricket and controversies went hand-to-hand in 2021. At times it was the controversy that enveloped cricketing action. Players and boards were caught warring. Scandals broke out. Confessions were made. But at the heart of it, controversies made it for difficult viewing.
We look at 7 such huge cricketing controversies of 2021:
#7 Quinton De Kock refusing to take the knee
South African cricket was caught in various off-field issues this year. Their administration failure notwithstanding, their failure to mitigate sensitive issues stood out. Cricket South Africa couldn’t handle the racism subject.
The issue reached a boiling point when Quinton De Kock, a white South African player refused to take the knee ahead of their opening World Cup game. De Kock later clarified that he didn’t understand the subject in its entirety. He had his doubts about taking the universally accepted symbol of taking the knee against racism. This created a huge uproar in cricketing circles.
#6 Azeem Rafiq’s shocking statements about racism
Azeem Rafiq, a former Yorkshire player admitted that he was racially abused during his playing days. He made startling confessions that how the entire system demolished his confidence owing to this issue. Rafiq called out former England captain, Michael Vaughan for his racist taunts.
He stated how former England opener, Gary Balance abused him racially. Rafiq even mentioned how current England captain, Joe Root was a passive participant in the entire episode. This incident showed how cricket in general needs to evolve to sensitive issues.
#5 Mohammad Siraj subjected to racist abuse
The Indian team had their hands full during the Australia tour. They not only were plagued with players suffering from injuries but had a lot of other stuff on their plate too. A boorish crowd in Sydney started racially abusing Indian pacer, Mohammad Siraj. The ugly episode of Sydney-gate reared its head again in the same venue, 13 years later.
#4 Tim Paine’s messaging scandal
Tim Paine was appointed as Australian Test captain in the wake of the sandpaper gate scandal. He was built as someone who played the game with the utmost integrity. But Cricket Australia in their desperate need to project a saint-like image of their captain messed up the scene completely.
Paine was caught red-handed for the inappropriate texts he had sent to his former lady colleague. He tendered his resignation as Australian captain immediately in the aftermath of this scandal. Paine has taken an indefinite break from the game too.
#3 New Zealand cancelling their Pakistan tour at the last moment
New Zealand were all but set to tour Pakistan ahead of the T20 World Cup. The tour’s preparations were set in motion for the longest time. PCB, the host nation had left no stone unturned for the tour to start. But just at the onset of the first match, the New Zealand cricket board decided to call the tour off. This left not just PCB but the entire Pakistani contingent shocked. PCB chairman expressed his displeasure in no uncertain words.
#2 SRH sacking David Warner
The fallout between David Warner and SRH was one of the most disappointing stories of IPL 2021. Warner was SRH’s talisman. He led them to their only IPL title in 2016 where he scored 848 runs.
If there ever was a captain who gave it his all to a franchise then that was Warner. He won 3 orange caps in 5 seasons. Warner was a run bank that SRH always counted on. But owing to internal bitter battles, Warner’s SRH run came to an end. The franchise didn’t give the man his due. A legacy was shattered!
#1 Virat Kohli vs BCCI issue
BCCI announced India’s Test squad for South Africa. But the announcement accompanied a note. It stated that the board has decided to appoint Rohit Sharma as India’s new ODI captain. The move to sack Kohli without any acknowledgment was met with serious displeasure.
Ganguly, the BCCI president stated calmly that the board had asked Kohli not to step down as the T20I captain. As this will make room for too many leadership roles. Hence the board was forced to appoint Sharma as the white ball captain.
Kohli addressing the pre-series presser dropped many a bomb that shook the BCCI power centers. Kohli added that he was told about his removal from ODI captaincy just 90 minutes prior to the squad selection for the South Africa series. He vehemently denied the statements made by the Board and its President regarding the protocol followed. The event is yet to die down but it is easily the biggest cricketing controversy of 2021.