Theater of Cruelty

Profile: Abid Q. Raja

Attorney Abid Q. Raja is accused of using cricket as a stepping stone to his political career. But he would have no qualms in defending him who killed Pakistan's national team coaches.


Pakistan national team coach Bob Woolmer was found dead the day after Pakistan was knocked out of the Cricket World Cup, following a shock loss to Ireland. On March 22, it was determined that Woolmer was strangled. What is your reaction to the murder? – The loss against Ireland came like lightning from clear skies. It is almost as if Spain had beaten Norway in a cross-country relay. The audience was in armor. One hundred million watched the match in Pakistan, and the live broadcasts had to be interrupted due to swearing and blackmail. First, it was reported that Woolmer died of a heart attack, allegedly due to the shame associated with being knocked out. Then it turned out to be a murder. This is deeply tragic. Fingerprints have now been taken of all national team players. I do not think any of them are behind it, but one can never know.

Could you, as a lawyer, represent someone who is accused of killing Pakistan's national team coaches?

- Yes, a lawyer can not let his own opinions get in the way of the job. The ultimate test would be whether I should defend a racist or neo-Nazi for racist violence against a colored man. That job had really been a challenge, but I like challenges.

Andres Escobar from Colombia scored a goal in the 1994 Soccer World Cup, and was killed when he returned home. Can these events be compared?

- Yes absolutely. Cricket is the world's second largest sport. People have been waiting four years for the World Cup, the expectations were enormous. Then we break out before the initial rounds are over! Against Ireland! I was also cursed. Cricket is deep in the soul of the people. Many Norwegian-Pakistanis have bought satellite dishes for the occasion.

At the end of February, when you ran for election as president of the Norwegian Cricket Federation, there was a great deal of noise, and you were accused of wanting to use the position as a stepping stone for your own political career. Was that your motivation?

- Hehe, that was a funny thing. I played a little cricket when I was young, I'm a lousy player, but an all the more enthusiastic spectator. I had no plans to run for president, but was contacted by several teams who thought that there was a lack of democracy in the Norwegian Cricket Association. They wanted me to ask. So I took the challenge. There were huge riots and a fierce debate online. I lost by 20 to 28 votes to Mehtab Afsar Khan. It's okay. But that I should use cricket as a springboard for my political career? It is not correct. I wanted to make an effort for cricket and put the sport on the agenda.

If cricket can be a stepping stone, does it indicate that the status of the sport is rising? If golf is the new public sport, is cricket the new golf?

- Hehe, yes, wait and see. Together with Sandvika Vel, we try to arrange a match between Bærum cricket and Alians, which is a team with only "whites". The sport is growing fast, despite small resources. There is only one good course in Norway, at Ekeberg. Norway is currently some distance away from reaching the World Cup. We need more courts, more resources, a clubhouse and national facilities. Cricket can also help fight crime. Immigrant youth fall outside the traditional sports

movement. This is about creating arenas for integration and culture. Sports are well suited as a common meeting place.

What do you think of NRK and TV 2's coverage of cricket?

- It's too bad. The cricket matches last for many hours, but they could show summaries with highlights. Norsk-

Pakistanis also pay a license, so NRK has a special obligation.

Many struggle to understand the rules of cricket, we have created a small, unpretentious quiz to let you prove that your cricket commitment is not superficial. Are you with? Good. Question 1: What does it mean when a batsman manages a ton?

- Oi, hm, well is it that he hits the sticks with the bat?

No, it's that he has scored over 100 runs.

- But we call it a century!

Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like half a point. Question 2: What is a duck?

- What? Duck? Hehe, could it be that a bird enters the field and is hit by the ball so that the ball changes direction?

Nice suggestion, but wrong. That's when a batsman goes out without clearing a single run.

- Aha, but we call it a «duck».

Hm, then I have to consult a professional judge, for a moment. Yes, it is called Urdu, you should get it right. Question 3: What is a Beamer?

- Mm, is it a screwball?

No, it's a ball thrown right at the batsman's head. A screwball is the same as a googly without bounce, but not the same as a beamer. Screwball is, as its name implies, a ball that gets screwed so it goes in the opposite direction of what it normally should. It's a legal throw. However, a beamer is strictly illegal and has nothing to do with screws. Last question: How many

throw it in an over?

- Sex.

Correct. Not bad at all, these were reasonably difficult questions. For those readers who are now a little confused, how would you, as concisely as possible, explain what the game is all about?

- For the attacking team it is about scoring as many runs as possible on the overs you have, in the World Cup matches it is 50. For the defending team it is about throwing the ball on the sticks or taking the pool, and throwing strategically, so that becomes difficult for the other team. It's not worse.

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