Just like any other sport, cricket continues to evolve over the years. From initially being restricted to Tests, the gentleman's game now boasts of three formats including One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). Thanks to the matches being televised, the game has managed to reach a larger audience and offers more entertainment when compared with older eras.
If the antics on the field aren't enough to keep the viewers on their toes, the commentating teams tirelessly explaining the ever-changing match situations further enhances the experience of a cricket match. While there have been notable voices who've become symbolic over the years, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar is arguably one of the most respected and learned commentators in the business today.
On the back of his own understanding and knowledge of the game, Manjrekar continues to educate cricket fans across the globe about the key areas of a cricket match that is generally overlooked by many. His opinions in and around cricket have also struck a chord with fans over the years.
But, recently, the former Indian cricketer made a point that was neither appropriate, nor in sync with the issue at hand.
Joe Root was going about his business, amassing runs for England, alongside Joe Denly on the third day of the 3rd Test against West Indies in St Lucia when Shannon Gabriel exchanged a few words with the batsmen. In what is believed to be a homophobic slur, Gabriel received a befitting reply from the England captain who was caught on the stump mic saying: "Don't use that as an insult. There is nothing wrong with being gay".
Joe Root praised as a 'role model' by Nasser Hussain and Ian Wright for telling Shannon Gabriel 'there's nothing wrong with being gay' in homophobic sledging incident https://t.co/Wip4BUsEh8 pic.twitter.com/CGirpDaT5c— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) February 12, 2019
As soon as the video that recorded the whole episode surfaced on social media, cricket fans and pundits showered praise on Root for his responsible reply to the West Indies seamer. And later, during his media interaction, Root's decision against revealing the details of Gabriel's comments further had everyone singing his praise.
After Sarfraz it's Shannon Gabriel now who could be in trouble thanks to the stump mics. #ICC must brainstorm and decide if increased use of stump mics is actually good for the game or not.— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) February 12, 2019
Reacting to Joe Root's retort to Gabriel's sledging, Manjrekar, too, had his opinion. But, the 53-year-old was seen criticising the International Cricket Council (ICC) for what he claimed was "increased use of stump mics". Taking to Twitter, Manjrekar wrote: "After Sarfraz it's Shannon Gabriel now who could be in trouble thanks to the stump mics. #ICC must brainstorm and decide if increased use of stump mics is actually good for the game or not".
Now, with all due respect to the former Indian cricketer, the tweet had no relevance to impending issue of ever-growing racism in sports. To make matters worse, Manjrekar used Sarfraz Ahmed's case - wherein the Pakistani captain was caught on the stump mic hurling a racist slur at Andile Phehlukwayo.
Just hearing about what Sarfraz said on the stump mic, which I somehow missed during the game.
Very disappointed. Shame that this is what we have to talk about after a good game, but now that it's happened, it does need talking about at length. #SAvPAK
Manjrekar went on to add that the stump mic got Sarfraz in trouble before causing trouble to Gabriel. So, is the former Indian cricketer suggesting that racist and homophobic slurs are ok and stump mics aren't? Moreover, rather than appreciating the use of technology, in this case stump mics that helped in keeping such objectionable things in check, Manjrekar is blaming the ICC for its excessive use.
The advent of stump mics and introduction in cricket matches is one of the numerous ways that is being used by the ICC to add the entertainment quotient to the game. After all, everyone wants to know what the cricketers talk about on the field and who doesn't love MS Dhoni's hilarious chatter from behind the stumps. But, at the helm of it all, stump mics have also played a pivotal role in bringing such objectionable remarks to the fore.
Many students are getting caught cheating in the exam . Authorities must brainstorm if increased use of invigilators is actually good for the exams or not.— Adithya BS (@iambsa) February 12, 2019
So when, Mr Manjrekar claims that stump mics have got the likes of Sarfraz and potentially Gabriel into trouble, he comes across as someone who is happy to let such perpetrators go scot-free, with no accountability, so that they can continue bringing bad name to cricket, because, as per the respected commentator, stump mics are a bigger problem than the immediate need to curb racism in sports.
Whether the use of stump mics in cricket is good or not, the unwanted comments of Sarfraz and Gabriel were in no way aligned to the conduct of sportspersons who are often looked upon as role models and inspiration to youngsters. And, the fact that the stump mics played a key role in highlighting their offence, further shows how important they are in the modern era of sports.