There have been several instances of cricketers being left out of their national team squads when bad form could not have been the primary reason.
These instances make us believe that there were off-field reasons, indiscipline in some cases, behind a player getting dropped. In today's article, we will look at some such incidents.
Cricket is widely known as the gentleman's game. It has, for long, propagated ideals of sportsmanship and equanimity in victory and defeat as well. However, the game has also seen many players who have courted controversies and brought their respective teams to shame by committing disciplinary breaches.
Today, we bring to you eight such players who were dropped by their countries for non-cricketing reasons.
Eight cricketers dropped from their teams for non-cricketing reasons
8. Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan)
The fastest bowler in the world in his prime, Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar, had a career that was laced with controversies. The first of these came after the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup when he was sacked after getting into verbal conflicts with teammates.
In 2007, a week before the inaugural World Twenty20, Akhtar was found to have got into altercations with fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif and all-rounder Shahid Afridi. He was subsequently banned for five matches by the board and sent home.
Later, in 2008, Akhtar was banned for five years by the Pakistan Cricket Board for failing to adhere to the players' code of conduct. All such controversies meant that a promising cricketing career had to be cut short.
Akhtar finally called it a day after the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. He had played in only 46 Tests and 163 One Day Internationals.
7. Simon Katich (Australia)
Simon Katich was one of the most prolific openers to have played for Australia after the retirement Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer. However, Katich's Test career was cut short after Cricket Australia denied him a central contract in mid-2011. This was despite that the fact that the left-hander had been in great form in 2008 to 2010, averaging 45.
After injuring his Achilles tendon in the 2010/11 Ashes, which Australia lost 1-3, Katich fell out of favour. There was no clear indication of why he was not awarded a contract. But it is widely believed that a brawl that he had with captain Michael Clarke (who was then the vice-captain) at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2009 led to Katich's exclusion from the team.
Back then, Katich had got into an altercation with Clarke when the latter wanted the Australian team song to be done with quickly so that he could go elsewhere. The New South Wales batsman believed that Clarke pulled a lot of strings behind the scenes to make sure that Katich was dropped, and another left-handed opener, Chris Rogers, being picked instead.
6. Umar Akmal (Pakistan)
Umar Akmal, the brother of Pakistan internationals Kamran and Adnan, has repeatedly been found wanting by the country's cricket board because of disciplinary issues. The temperamental middle-order batsman has often been fined and dropped by Pakistan for breaching team rules and obligations.
Akmal has regularly been seen as shirking responsibility.
An incident in a training camp transpired earlier this year in which he made derogatory comments to the fitness trainer of the team. In the past as well, Akmal has been fined a lot of times for breaking curfew imposed by the team management and heading for night outs in town despite having games lined up the next day.
For the moment, though, Akmal is serving a three-year ban from the game for failing to twice report approaches of corruption made to him.
5. Andrew Symonds (Australia)
Andrew Symonds was often misunderstood at times and labelled perennially as the bad-boy of Australian cricket. The dreadlocked and immensely talented all-rounder could have had the world at his feet. But he had to ultimately give the game up for a host of disciplinary issues.
In 2005, Symonds played in an ODI against Bangladesh after having been out drinking for most of the night. Later in 2008, he was suspended by the team management after he missed a meeting as he had reportedly gone fishing on the coast of his home state Queensland.
The final nail in the coffin came in 2009, when he was sent home from the World Twenty20 in England for excessive drinking and other disciplinary issues. Symonds was a gift to the world of cricket but sadly could not rein himself in or limit his off-field activities.
4. Darren Bravo (West Indies)
Gifted West Indian batsman Darren Bravo has drawn praise from all corners due to similarities in his batting style and the great Brian Lara's. But Bravo has been on the wrong side of the track in the past. He was axed by the team management for a tri-series in Zimbabwe in 2016 for venting his ire on microblogging site Twitter after being awarded a 'C' level national contract.
The then West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron commented in the media that Bravo's performances did not merit being awarded with a better contract. In response, the left-handed middle-order batsman took to Twitter to rant and publicly disagree with Cameron. It did not go down well with the WICB, who dropped him from the West Indies squad for the tri-series.
3. Andrew Flintoff (England)
One of the greatest all-rounders produced by England after Sir Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff is widely infamous for being only one of three captains in history to have lost an Ashes series 0-5 to Australia.
Andrew Flintoff fell foul of the team management in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 after the infamous 'pedalo' incident.
However, Flintoff drank a little too much after a defeat to New Zealand in the opening stages of the tournament and ended up getting on a pedalo that ultimately capsised in the ocean.
He had to be dragged out by onlookers. Later he was stripped of the team's vice-captaincy as well as dropped for the next game against Canada. Flintoff's intention behind getting on the pedalo was to have a nightcap with Sir Ian, who was supposed to be moored on a yacht in the ocean.
2. Ricky Ponting (Australia)
What most people are not aware of is the fact that Australian great Ricky Ponting was dropped from the playing eleven in a One Day International for non-cricketing reasons. This incident happened back in 1996 when Australia were on a tour of India.
On a flight from Indore to Bengaluru, Ponting and his teammate Paul Reiffel, who was a fast bowler of repute and now an international umpire, got involved in a scuffle. Ponting had mocked Reiffel because a co-passenger spilt his lunch all over the fast bowler.
Mark Taylor, the captain of the Australian national team, got the duo together. Taylor explained why they had not been prudent in getting involved in a bust-up in a public place like an aeroplane where there are journalists on board.
The captain then proceeded to leave the two cricketers out of the next game in the series.
1. Kevin Pietersen (England)
One of the greatest cricketers to have represented the Three Lions, Kevin Pietersen was forever deemed to be a 'problem child' by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
The flamboyant South Africa-born batsman first made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2012 when he sent defamatory text messages to the South African team regarding England's captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower during an ongoing Test series.
Earlier, in 2008, he resigned from the Test and ODI captaincy after having fallen out with then-coach Peter Moores. He has also been involved in numerous controversies on the microblogging site Twitter where he has often ridiculed former cricketers.
Following the text-gate controversy in 2012, Pietersen was shown the door but later reintegrated into the team. However, the final nail on Pietersen's coffin came after the 2013/14 Ashes, when the ECB had had enough of him and told him so.Published 12 May 2020, 13:45 IST