The spirit of cricket was again plunged into crisis this week. Some may think this refers to the run out of Ireland captain Ed Joyce, when Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi threw the ball back in while so far over the boundary rope stewards at Stormont asked to see his ticket. Yet sadly this underhand chicanery was actually nothing compared to the disgusting scenes at Lord’s where Pakistan, led astray by wanton gym bunny and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, celebrated their win by doing press-ups on the outfield in front of their supporters.While many saw this as a joyous moment encapsulating the very best of sport’s effervescent capacity to inspire unbridled joy, this misses the more important point that it also upset quite a lot of English people. Not because of sour grapes over England’s loss, you appreciate. That would be an absurd claim. But because it was just not on. Despite embellished interpretations, England skipper Alastair Cook himself didn’t actually pass judgment on the decency of the celebration. He merely noted it was “not pleasant” to watch in the immediate sting of defeat and that his side would use it, not unreasonably, as “motivation”. There was, however, loud harrumphing from some other high profile quarters of English cricket, and not least from former Ashes winner Tim Bresnan. Illustrating the fetish for merriment and levity for which his county of Yorkshire is famous, the fast bowler admonished Pakistan for their actions on Twitter, telling them: “That might bite you, boys. Carma [sic] catches up with you eventually. It did with the Sprinkler.”Given England lost their next away Ashes series after their famous horticultural celebration 5-0, perhaps there’s some truth in Guru Tim’s warnings. So, writing as an Englishman, here is a brief guide to how other sides everywhere can celebrate with the sort of dignity and decency my own nation has given to the game.Sadly Pakistan’s press-ups weren’t the first time the hallowed haven of Lord’s has been sullied by rude foreigners. Ganguly’s shirt-waving, chest-baring act in 2002 is now so iconic it hardly needs mentioning but, in the interests of upholding the game’s morals, we must again bring it up as evidence of wrongdoing. Some apologists for Dada’s actions have suggested he was merely wryly mocking Andrew Flintoff, who had produced a similar celebration in a Mumbai ODI earlier in the year. These people forget that Flintoff actually suffers from a condition called “being English abroad” which necessitates exposing your milky torso – however cuddly – whenever possibly. This condition can often be so severely disorientating that it affects non-English born England players celebrating abroad in English nightclubs. Gary Ballance is an acute sufferer.Magnanimity is the watchword of the English. When under the cosh in a match we still offer opposition batsmen refreshments, such as jelly beans, and when we win we provide a comforting handshake and a few words of consolation. There’s no better example of this than again Flintoff who, instead of choosing to revel in his own joy at the end of England’s epic Ashes win at Edgbaston in 2005, rushed over to the dejected Brett Lee and shook his hand. Realising his opponent was also probably deeply confused by the crazy, giddying end to the match, the England all-rounder also had the kindness of forethought to remind Lee of both the score in the series and his nationality. Astonishing decency at such an intense moment.Another disappointing aspect of Pakistan’s win was the nature of their individual wicket celebrations. Amir continued with his flighted Akram, while Yasir Shah has developed an interesting jump and mid-air punch manoeuvre which looks like a moderately difficult special move on Street Fighter II. It’s all rather showy, to be honest, and contrasts rather badly with the more respectful celebrations of James Anderson, who normally rams his arms down by his side and screams like a man in a straitjacket who’s been hurled off the side of a cliff. This allows him to celebrate in an honourable and macho fashion, but without insulting the sensibilities of his opponent, as can clearly be seen in this photo of him with AB de Villiers. It was also noticeable at Lord’s that Shah, unlike Anderson, makes absolutely no effort to engage in light conversation with the other side’s batsmen when bowling at them. Rarely a ball goes by without Anderson offering a cheery word or two, often even damaging his own chances of a wicket by telling his opponent about any flaws he’s noticed in their technique. With Shah, there’s nothing. Just rude, really.There is nothing more coveted in cricket than the 22 yards themselves, a strip of land which, as Wahab Riaz found during the First Test when running on the wicket, umpires watch like a particularly overbearing hawk. This is not to say, however, that the rest of the field of play should be disrespected in the shocking way Pakistan did at Lord’s. Compare and contrast their treatment of this vaunted grass with England’s treatment of The Oval outfield when celebrating their Ashes win in 2013. Instead of pounding the ground with press-ups, Cook’s men on that occasion took stock of the effects five days of cricket can have on a surface and decided to fertilise the grass in an entirely environmentally-friendly manner. Maximum respect, maximum ecological kudos.So, a few tips there for Pakistan ahead of the Old trafford Test. Doubtless they will be too busy honing their squat thrusts and side crunches to take any notice but we live in hope they and all other sides who are not England can buck up their ideas a bit on the celebration front. Or, if that fails, just have the common courtesy not to win whenever they play us.
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