The world is full of tyranny, unjust actions and repression. Humanity has the ability to surprise us on a consistent basis with the ease in which it brings harm upon its own kin.
Cricket on the other hand brings us to together. Most sport has this tremendous power.
Jews sitting next to Muslim Arabs at the MCG on the Christian Boxing Day. Families by their sides. No tension. Just fun.
Moeen Ali is a proud Muslim. These are his words. He wears his beard overtly to share his faith with the world. Again, these are his words.
Like many, Moeen has a view on the current situation in Palestine. We know this because the ICC have asked him not to wear this wristband again:
Is the ICC right in its stance?
The ECB don’t think so. They claim the stance by Moeen is humanitarian and not political. Many other commentators clearly agree with this view.
But what is humanitarian? How it different from political?
Why are these issues being lobbied on the sporting field?
Although a difficult issue, the only logical analysis shows that sport and lobbying do not mix.
The issue for debate is not whether Moeen’s actions where justified because of the situation in Gaza. It is whether cricketers should lobby political or humanitarian perspectives on the cricket ground?
The ICC has muddied the waters somewhat by allowing other events to be sanctioned. For example, the English and Indian players offered up a minutes silence to commemorate the 100th anniversary of those who died in WWI.
A war. A big war. One with many deaths but one with two sides of the story.
The ICC also sanctions Pink Day at the SCG in support of the McGrath Foundation. This is a charity that supports women suffering from breast cancer. Clearly, this is a humanitarian and not a political cause. There is no war between peoples happening here.
Should they be allowed?
The question that provides clarity is this:
“Where is the line drawn and who is the moral arbiter?”
Is a wristband ok but a T- shirt crossing the line? Is Gaza a legitimate cause but anti abortion not?
Who decides? Where is the pre approved list?
In any debate that involves strong degrees of passion and subjective viewpoints, flashpoints will occur. Unfortunately, the Gaza issue has the potential to be split quickly down religious or geopolitical lines. If this occurs, there is no debate.
Moeen Ali was wrong to wear those wristbands. It was against ICC rules and he chose the wrong forum for the discussion. He is paid to be a cricketer and he was on duty at the time.
Ample opportunity exists for him to raise awareness for whatever issue he likes while not on the field.
As Zimbabwean commentator Dean du Plessis discusses in this interview, although Flower and Olonga were brave to protest against Mugabe on the field in 2003, it probably hindered the cause more than helped.
The cricket ground is not a parliament, a place for social issue debate or a medium for protest. It is a place of employment, where highly skilled individuals deploy their craft with a bat and a ball.
Moeen Ali got it wrong wearing that wristband. Not because of the Palestinian issue, but because the medium was incorrect.