wireless beats by dre headphones Jarrod Kimber on why Bangladesh fans are riled
The YouTube video is titled “Ramiz Raza undermines Bangladesh.” It starts with a clip from a post match press conference where Ramiz Raja is speaking to Tamim Iqbal and then it transitions to a young man sitting in front of his computer. The young man starts talking.
“Hi guys, it is regarding about Ramiz Raja, he was taking the interview of Tamim Iqbal yesterday.”
The young man is very focused, very serious, staring straight down the lens. He talks about the interview, and why it bothers him, and then says “Are you fg blind, or are you not watching? I don’t know, I don’t understand, do you have an issue with Bangladesh, or are you just jealous about Bangladesh? Stop doing it, mate. Don’t be fg daft, don’t be fg blind, mate. Stop doing it.”
Then he disappears and Dr Dre’s “The Next Episode” starts playing.
There is no cricket fan who doesn’t get frustrated at cricket commentators. We spend so much time with them, and it’s impossible to like all of them. It might be their voice, their intonation, their accent, their words, their phraseology, their outlook, their biases, their alleged biases, their knowledge, their playing style, their tweeting style, to name but a fraction of the reasons.
There is also the quality of cricket commentary. It would he hard to suggest we are in a golden age, or even a bronze age. At best, it’s a beige age. Cricket broadcasters don’t scour the globe looking for the best and the brightest; they hire ex players who are famous and put them in front of a microphone. The very, very worst usually don’t survive. The very best become household names.
Most fall in the middle ground. They wait anxiously for the call from producers around the world. They have to satisfy production companies, broadcasters, and ever increasingly, cricket boards. It means that they have to be safe, middling by nature. They are often booked at the last minute, they are well compensated, but unless they have a lucrative home board contract, chances are they don’t feel secure.
As many are ex players, they do not do the kind of research a broadcast professional or journalist would, or at least should, do. Off air they often say things like, “I know cricket, so I don’t have to follow it.” Increasingly they are listened to by knowledgeable fans who often know more about the player than the commentator. The frustration brims as the commentator says something wrong. And now with Twitter, there are instant and constant corrections.
It is a hard job, often done poorly.
But most people just don’t take commentators that seriously. They have become the background noise of cricket, rather than the voice of god they once were. There are now also more options to listen to. White Line Wireless and Guerilla Cricket ofter alternative commentary. There is also usually a radio or tune in broadcast that you can sync with your TV. Chances are, cricket will never have another John Arlott or Richie Benaud as the game’s voice.
So with all that, imagine that one commentator was so hated that news stations rerun his commentary to highlight how bad he is, that cricket journalists pen open letters about his behaviour and people burn effigies of him in the street.
Now imagine this man is the well coiffed slick package of Ramiz Raja. For most cricket fans, a harmless commentator who can occasionally gaffe. To Bangladeshis, the enemy.
“We dont want Ramiz Raza as a commentator during Bangladesh match in Worldcup Cricket 2015” says the title of the petition. They wanted 1000 people to sign, but ended with only 352. Though not having it also in Bengali might have limited its reach. One of the comments, from ‘Name not displayed’, says, “His comments is hurting so many peoples hearts”.
If it were just fans, it would be one thing; it is far more than that. An open letter was written by Azad Majumder, the sports editor of the Daily New Age in Bangladesh, for the cricket website Cricwizz. His letter lists what are essentially the main concerns of Bangladesh fans. “I know you are not a great fan of the Bangladesh cricket team,” says Majumder. “For years you have ridiculed Bangladeshi players knowingly or unknowingly.” He then goes on to mention the Afghanistan Bangladesh game of the 2015 World Cup.
And this is an important game. It was the first time Afghanistan ever made it to the World Cup. They were rightly feted for making it,
and for existing in the first place. Almost everyone who watched that game as a neutral wanted Afghanistan to win. It was a party in their honour. Ramiz was probably no different. Majumder writes, “From the very beginning of match, you, as a commentator, tried to give an impression that Bangladesh were scared of facing Afghanistan.” This was a game Majumder was at, so he, by his own admission, heard about Ramiz’s crimes largely through social media. But the previous game between these teams Afghanistan had won.
This meant that many thought Afghanistan had a chance of winning the match. No one saw Afghanistan as a favourite, but they saw them as a danger side. That is not how Bangladesh fans saw it, and they saw it even less like that when Ramiz spoke. The idea that their team could be afraid of Afghanistan was a personal affront.
Recently at the first PSL, Ramiz made an error in suggesting Lendl Simmons had won Man of the Match in a game, where the honour actually went to Shakib Al Hasan. Which might sound like nothing, but then a few days later, something else happened.
As Majumder explains, “When Tamim Iqbal came to collect his Man of the Match award, you told him, ‘Tamim: I can’t speak your language. What then? English?’ It was unbecoming of a man of your stature who has been involved in commentary for years.”
Now if you are not Asian, or well versed in Asian culture, you need to understand what suggesting someone may not speak English means it means they are not cultured, they are not educated.
According to Ramiz, “That was a very polite introduction to his Man of the Match award conversation it was [about] whether he was comfortable, because I couldn’t speak Bengali, and I knew he wouldn’t be comfortable speaking Pashto, because he was playing for Peshawar. So would English be a good medium?” That might have been what Ramiz thought it was, but to Bangladeshis, who in part separated from Pakistan over their language, it was seen as a sly dig.
You also have to understand how cricket productions work. They are not always completely professional. In this case, no one had checked with Tamim what language he wanted to speak. There were four languages involved: Pashto, Urdu, Bengali and English. To complicate matters further, when the Bangladesh women’s team toured Pakistan and India, they were told not to talk in Hindi or Urdu.
Perhaps it should have been sorted before, perhaps Ramiz should know what languages Tamim speaks after all these years of his career and as he had actually interviewed him before. As Majumder wrote:
“It was your duty to do your homework and you get paid for this. Tamim Iqbal is one of the few cricketers in Bangladesh who speaks very good English. He has been playing international cricket for nearly a decade. You, being a commentator, following the Bangladesh team over many matches, should have known this. Or you should not have taken the microphone.”
Now he has a point, but also, if we were to stop using cricket commentators for what they should know, Channel Nine would have a commentary team of about two people, and a huge percentage of the most famous ex players in the world would be out of work.
The next video that autoplays after the scary sweary young Bangladeshi’s message for Ramiz is titled, ‘Ramiz Raja mocks Shoaib Malik’. In that video, Malik walks up to get his cheque for Man of the Match and Ramiz’s first question is, “Urdu or English?”
The problem with this is, it doesn’t see how much Bangladesh has grown, and how much their fans don’t want to be seen as a low point for another side. That is the Bangladesh of five years ago, ten years ago, the easy beats. Not the Bangladesh of now, the very well put together ODI side who are building a fortress at home, quarter finalists in the World cup, should have beaten India at home. They are many things, but no longer a low point.
And remember this is Ramiz talking about Pakistan. His team, that he is passionate for. He is upset about where they are going as a team, why they are failing, and even mentioning that they could learn from Bangladesh. But that is not enough to distinguish from his anger that his team cannot beat Bangladesh, and that is what angers them.
Bangladesh was once part of Pakistan. When New Zealand won their first Test series ever, it was in Dhaka. They fought a war in 1971. Blood was spilt, the countries were divided. Since then, Pakistan has always been the better known country. It has a bigger economy, and in cricket they have won the World Cup and the World T20. For most of their existence in cricket,
Bangladesh have either not even been a Test nation or been the Test nation people ignore.