Islamabad, Feb.5 (ANI): Even while describing Shahid Afridi's shocking act of chewing the ball during the fifth and final one-day international against Australia at Perth as 'indefensible', former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja has said that ball-tampering is the Pakistan team's 'standard operating procedure' (SOP).
Raja said Afridi's crime was not something that the world cricket fraternity has witnessed for the first time and that it is something which is a normal phenomenon in the context of Pakistan cricket.
"Afridi comes from an era, a cricketing culture where ball tampering is considered a normal cricket activity, a done deal on flat Pakistani pitches, an art form and not a sin. It's been a part of the Pakistan team's SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)," Raja said, adding, "All teams have one. The Aussies have been brought up on sledging and while the term may sit uncomfortably with the rest."
Raja also lamented the increasing imbalance in the game with the bowlers confined to a master-servant relationship with batsmen.
"The flat pitches, thick bats, shorter boundaries, capping of bouncers, free hit and power plays are just few examples that have neutralised bowlers. Is it not ironic that a game, that preaches equality and fair play, has confined bowlers to a master-servant relationship with batsmen," The Daily Times quoted the former middle order batsman, as saying.
Raja said though Afridi has brought a bad name to his country, the flamboyant all-rounder should be given a 'break' from all the criticism he has been receiving.
"Managers of the game need to understand that a 'six' may stimulate a momentary pleasure but a fall of a wicket is and will always be an ultimate high in cricket. So give Afridi a break. He may not have played this one by the book but he certainly did read from the book of his predecessors. And he was forced to play God," Raja said. (ANI)