The year 2021 was full of Cricket and action as the major cricketing took place in the year including World Test Championship Final and T20 World Cup. Apart from their on-field heroics, the players and teams were involved in several controversies off the field in the last 12 months. On that note, let’s take a look at the five biggest cricketing controversies of 2021.
1. New Zealand Cancelling Pakistan Tour Minutes Before First ODI
Resuming international cricket at home is still a dream for Pakistan cricket fans. The Pakistan Cricket Board are trying their best to host the overseas nation but unfortunately, they are yet to taste success.
The Blackcaps were all set to take the initiative but unfortunately, they failed to do so and their tour witnessed a controversial end.
New Zealand had arrived in Pakistan to play three ODIs and five T20Is in September 2021. However, on the day when the first ODI was scheduled to play, the New Zealand team hadn’t reached the ground even till half an hour before the scheduled time of play.
New Zealand Cricket later revealed that it received a security alert from its government and made the decision to cancel the tour moments before the scheduled start of the one-day international series in Rawalpindi. Both teams stayed at their hotel.
2. Taliban Bans Women’s Sports
Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan saw things getting worse in the nation and cricket was one such sport that got affected badly. Taliban banned major cricket coverage in the country especially the Indian Premier League due to the presence of “female audience and spectators” in stadiums.
Former Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) media manager M Ibrahim Momand said that the live broadcast of IPL matches was banned because of the ‘anti-Islamic’ content.
Not just that, they also banned women of the country from playing any kind of sports. Cricket Australia, as a result, postponed its historic first-ever test match against Afghanistan to show support for women in Afghanistan.
“CA is committed to support growing the game for women and men in Afghanistan and around the world, however, given the present uncertainty, CA felt it necessary to postpone the Test match until a later time when the situation is clearer,” Cricket Australia stated.
3. Racism in Yorkshire Cricket
During an interview in 2020, the former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq made serious allegations of racism and bullying during his time with Yorkshire, adding that “institutional racism” at the English club led him to contemplate suicide.
He filed a legal complaint in December 2020 claiming to have faces direct discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race. In July 2021, Yorkshire County Cricket Club issued an apology based on being a “victim of inappropriate behavior ” and denied the racism allegations. The cricketer, however, didn’t hold back and continued his fight against the club.
Eventually, the whole controversy made the club’s chairman resign and Yorkshire has been prohibited from hosting any international matches in future.
4. Shakib Al Hasan Misbehaving With Umpire
One of the best all-rounders of the world, Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh was trapped in a massive controversy due to his poor behaviour in June 2021. During a match of the Dhaka Premier League, Shakib furiously went on to uproot the stumps twice at the non-striker’s end as he displayed his strong resentment to the on-field umpire’s decision.
As per the reports, the first occasion when Shakib lost his cool was because the umpire denied LBW to him. The second instance was when the umpire was asking players to leave the field due to rain, and reportedly Shakib wasn’t even impressed with this decision either.
However, after Shakib Al Hasan’s misbehaviour drew heavy public criticism and some support on social media, he came forward and apologised.
“Dear fans and followers, I am extremely sorry for losing my temper and ruining the match for everyone and especially those who are watching from home. An experienced player like me should not have reacted that way but sometimes against all odds it happens, unfortunately.”
5. BCCI Sacks Virat Kohli as ODI Captain
It is one of the biggest controversies of the year as sacking Virat Kohli was a big call from the cricket board as many were expecting Kohli to step down from the role himself.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India took a bold (or can say controversial) step by removing Virat Kohli from the ODI captaincy and replacing him with Rohit Sharma.
Kohli decided to step down from T20I captaincy after the 2021 T20 World Cup, however, in his statement, the Indian Test skipper emphasised on managing the workload and focussing on the Test and ODI captaincy.
Following the statement, the 33-year old being sacked from ODI captaincy only came as a shock for Indian cricket fans. Not just this, the BCCI had to face the wrath of Indian cricket fans for mishandling the entire situation.