Year-ender: Top 8 sporting controversies of 2018

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 20, 2018 10:37 hrs
virat kohli and tim paine clash in perth test

Virat Kohli’s Bharat Chhodo abhiyaan

On his 30th birthday, Kohli decided to launch his mobile app and during that read out a Tweet… Over-rated batsman, I personally have seen nothing special in his batting. I enjoy watching English and Australian batsmen more than these Indian.

After that he went OK and said: I don’t think that you should live in India then. You should go and live somewhere else no? Why are you living in our country and loving other countries. But I don’t mind you not liking me but I don’t think you should live in our country and like other things. Get your priorities right.

So it was but natural that the controversial video would go viral and get an adverse reaction from both Twitterati and the media. But players like Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan defended the views of both Kohli and the foreign player fan.

Bollywood legend Naseeruddin Shah posted on his Facebook page…

Virat K is not only the worlds best batsman but also the worlds worst behaved player. His cricketing brilliance pales beside his arrogance and bad manners.. And I have no intention of leaving the country by the way.

While Kohli is probably used to such stuff by now, Shah got plastered in social media for his comments and his own behaviour.

Even the Aussies (the worst behaved players probably in the history of cricket) had problems with his behaviour. Bad boy Justin Langer said that if the Aussies celebrated like Kohli, they would be “the worst blokes in the world”. Funny he missed the irony in that statement.

Women’s cricket: High to low

It was just in 2017 that Indian women’s cricket was on top of the world. They had a great run winning series and tournaments. Captain Mithali Raj was on the verge of multiple records and they were in the ODI World Cup final at 191-3 chasing 229. However they missed a chance and folded for 219.

Then in 2018 a full-blown war broke out between coach Ramesh Powar, new captain Harmanpreet Kaur and old legend Mithali. This time it was at the World T20. India faced their ODI final nemesis England again in the semis this time and fans found out that Mithali wasn’t even in the playing XI.

India crashed out after being all out for a paltry 112 and so it wasn’t surprising that the knives were out. Mithali wanted to bat up the order and claimed that Powar humiliated her over the same and took aim at Committee of Administrators (CoA) member Diana Edulji, saying the two are biased against her and have tried to "destroy" her. Even Mithali’s manager Annisha Gupta got into the fray calling the ex-captain “a victim of politics and favouritism”. Later Harmanpreet and Mithali Raj had to meet BCCI Officials to explain their respective stands.

Powar continued to be in the news till the end of the year while Diana's leaked email implied that men’s captain Virat Kohli engineered the exit of coach Anil Kumble in 2017 to get in his favourite Ravi Shastri.

Fall of Steve Smith the Great

At the beginning of the year Steve Smith was probably Test’s greatest batsman with Kohli close on his heels. Don Bradman hit 29 centuries in 52 Tests at an average of 99.94. Nobody came close to that. Well maybe Smith… slightly maybe! From when he hit his first century in 2013 to the end of 2017, Smith hit 23 centuries in 49 Tests at an average of 73.34.

And then 2018 happened! Aussie fast bowler Cameron Bancroft was caught tampering the ball in the third Test of the series against South Africa. While initially no action was taken, it was later found out that captain Smith was fully in the know and the senior players had even planned it. So Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from playing both domestic and international cricket for 12 months.

The Tweet on Hima Das’ English

What’s a year without a Twitter controversy? When Hima Das won the 400-metre gold at the IAAF Under-20 World Athletics Championships, the whole country celebrated. The Athletics Federation of India (@afiindia) Tweeted with a video…

#HimaDas speking to media after her SF win at #iaaftampere2018 @iaaforg Not so fluent in English but she gave her best there too. So proud of u #HimaDas Keep rocking & yeah,try ur best in final! Of course Twitterati looked past the wishes and praise and concentrated on the English part. While the timeline for this particular Tweet was flooded with people blasting them, it was picked up by the media too. However Hima appeared to be totally nonplussed and said it was no big deal and that her English wasn’t that good anyway.

No doping. And no needles too!

While everyone knows that all the sporting bodies of the world have very strict no doping policies, do you know about the “No Needle Policy”? Well the Commonwealth Games began in Australia on an inauspicious note for India. Loose needles were found near the place where the boxing contingent was. Said the Commonwealth Games Federation, “Under the No Needle Policy, needles are required to be stored in a central secured location, access to which is restricted to authorized medical personnel of the CGA delegation. The needles in question were not disposed of until he had made two trips to the Polyclinic.”

That sounded like trouble in the beginning, but the boxers were given a clean chit and the doctor was served with a warning.

​Mohammed Shami the villain

Indian pacer Mohammed Shami’s wife Hasin Jahan is a model. But she was in the news for hurling a series of allegations on Shami. That he had extra-marital affairs. That he was violent in the home. That he had even tried to murder someone! Nothing much happened though in the end. Hasin joined the Congress and Shami picked up 5 wickets in the first Test at Adelaide in the Australia tour for a fine victory.​

Sania Mirza eve-teased

This is an old controversy which came to light just this year. Tennis star Sania Mirza was no stranger to controversies even before she married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik. Now it appears that a few years back when Malik travelled to Bangladesh for a tournament, Sania came to visit her husband on the field and was eve teased by Bangladeshi cricketer Sabbir Rahman. Sabbir himself is no stranger to controversy. He’s been fined and threatened people in the past.

Taking the Khel Ratna to court?

Wrestler Bajrang Punia has won many medals at World Championships, Commonwealth Championships and the Asian Games in the last few years. This year he won Gold in the Commonwealth Games in the 65kg category. Meanwhile this year the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna went to Virat Kohli and woman weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu.

Punia was miffed and ranted against the Khel Ratna Award and even threatened to take it to court! He even met the Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore. Punia questioned the way the awards were given, said he was hurt but backed off in the end.

The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here