It is painful when you are being treated as a pariah by your own people. We know sport stars who are hated by their oppositions but what about the ones who are treated as villains for their performances in their home countries. Sometimes the perceptions are blatantly wrong about them but still in public’s eye they are the one’s responsible for all that is bad. Whether we think of them as the trouble makers or not doesn’t matter. How public reacts to them is what we will be considering in this article. Let us have a look at few of such players.
1. Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma has never been able to carve out the same space for himself in the heart of Indians fans as the likes of Zaheer Khan and Bumrah have and he has only himself to blame for that. With his height, one would imagine him to be a terrifying bowler who could run riots but on contrary to that his sight allows batsmen to breathe a sigh of relief. With the number of loose balls he presents to the batsmen on the platter, it isn’t a surprise to me that he is being hated by a big chunk of Indian population.
No doubt he has his share of fans as well but there are people who support Hitler too. No? Let us jog your memory to the day when Sharma’s radar went haywire and he instilled seeds of his hatred in the hearts of Indian populace. SO the match was between India and Asutralia and our dear Sharma was charged with the responsibility of bowling the 48th over of the innings with 44 runs to be needed of 18 balls. What happened next is history. Australia’s Faulkner pulverized his bolwing and smashed him for 30 runs in that over. Australia went on to win the match thanks to Mr Sharma’s heroics with the ball (for Australia).
2. Hansi Cronje
One wouldn’t expect a person with 188 ODIs and 60+ tests under his belt to end up on this list but such is the irony in case of Hansi Kronje. An aggressive batsman, utility bowler and brilliant fielder, Kronje was one of the first players from South Africa who made a mark for themselves in the post-isolation period in 1992. What turned Hansi Kronje into a tarnished hero of South Africa was his blatant involvement in match fixing. In 2000, Delhi Police claimed to have tapped the conversation between and Indian Book maker and Kronje.
The contents of the tape implied an underperformance from Kronje. South African vehemently denied the accusation but three days later made a confession on call with a person from South African Cricket administration. He was immediately stripped off South Africa’ captaincy and was later handed down a life ban. A ban he tried to challenge in courts of law but in the court of public, he was never able to revive his image and though after his unexpected demise in a plane crash, many South Africans developed some soft spot for him yet serious fans think of him as a person who sowed the seeds of match fixing in South Africa. A menace they are dealing with even 16 years later in 2016 with their international bowler Tsotsobe being implicated in match fixing by certain cricketing corners.
3. Misbah Ul Haq
I wouldn’t call him a villain. He isn’t a villain, not by any definition of the word. If anything, he is a savior of Pakistan’s cricket yet there are people in Pakistan who wouldn’t think twice before accusing Misbah of being the root cause of every failure and shortcoming of Pakistan Cricket. They call him “tuk tuk” (named after the sound that a cricket bat makes on playing a defensive shot) for his, at times, ultra-defensive batting style. Misbah can fall in the hit-or-block pedigree of batsmen but that is what he has been successful with. He has won matches for Pakistan in situations when no other batsman accompanied him. He is the most successful Pakistani test captain ever. A man with the nerves of steel, Misbah was the lone man battling the Indian side in the final of 2007 T20 World Cup and almost snatched victory for his team. Even though that Pakistan had clearly lost the game after a pathetic batting collapse, Misbah through his massive hitting brought Pakistan into touching distance of victory only to fall short of it by just 6 runs. Misbah still gets lambasted for playing that scoop that resulted in his demise but few give him credit for bringing Pakistan in the winning situation in the first place.
4. Rahat Ali
Rahat’s docile demeanor often dissuades people of throwing any abusive taunts at him but the truth is that not many remember his performance in the last World Cup in New Zealand & Australia with much fondness. Rahat Ali lost a huge chunk of his supporters- he never had any huge fan base to start with- on the day of Quarter Final between Australia and Pakistan. A spirited Wahab Riaz, after pressurizing Shane Watson with one of the greatest spells of the World Cup history, manufactured a chance for Pakistan which could have given Pakistan a whiff of victory.
But the man who made a mess of that chance was Rahat Ali. He dropped one of the easiest catches in cricket and with that dropped catch Pakistan’s hopes of staying in the tournament dashed. So I wouldn’t blame Pakistani people for perceiving Rahat as a villain.
5. Kevin Pietersen
“The first impression is the last impression” is one statement which is incontrovertibly false in Kevin Pieterson’s story. The guy came, saw and conquered the international cricketing stage. The blue eyed boy of English cricket strung just the right chords with the cricket board and the fans alike but then his attitude caught up. KP had always been a basher both on and off the field. He was instrumental in England’s historic Ashes victory in 2005 and English victory in T20 World Cup can hardly be imagined without KP’s performances. But after that KP became more of a baggage that the team management would rather avoid carrying everywhere.
His cavalier attitude became too much for the coach and captain to bear with. News of discord between KP and the team management soon became rampant and it wasn’t long after that KP found himself being exiled from the English Cricket Team. Though KP still maintains a big chunk of supporters among English people but a great many hate him for his off field attitude and on field recklessness and deem the team to be better off without KP’s presence in the dugout.
6. Chris Cairns
He just got acquitted from a court in England from the charges of perjury. Cairns who once was deemed as one of the most sumptuous hitter of Cricket ball fell from grace after news of his involvement in match fixing became public. Cairns records as cricketer have been top class and there is no denying that he earned his fans and that too in a short period of times but he lost them even swiftly. Cairns, ostensibly, remained involved in match fixing in the outlawed Indian Cricket league and coerced his ex-teammate from New Zealand, Lou Vincent, into match fixing as well.
Vincent openly states that Cairns strong armed him into match fixing. Not many people now in New Zealand want to remember Cairn’s services as New Zealand cricketer, most of the hate him for cheating at the very game which gave him all the praise.
7. Chetan Sharma
Cricket is a ruthless game. Just one good delivery can give you fame of biblical proportions and playing a mere dot can get you roosted. Chetan Sharma is a prime example of how one delivery changes the dimensions of careers and how one delivery can turn you into a villain. It was the ground of Sharjah where Chetan Sharma came against Javed Miandad ina famous game. Pakistan needed 4 runs on the last ball and Minadad smoked one over square leg for a six to win a famous game for Pakistan. Ever since that day.
Chetan Sharma is being lamented by Indians as the man who ruined the game for them. In a recent interview, Chetan Sharma frankly asked Indian people to forget that six and forgive his mistake.