The new cricket season has not even begun. It seems that we are going to start the year with controversy as big as Sandpapergate. Alex Hales has taken “recreational drugs.” He has failed two drug tests. This has affected England’s plans for the World Cup. I do believe that the ECB has taken the right step in banning Alex Hales even though they have not handled the incident well. This extends to the players in the 15 for the World Cup as well as the 17 for the game in Ireland as well as Pakistan. The closest comparison I can think of is if one of the members of the cycling men’s team sprint were caught taking drugs a month before the Olympics. The situation with Alex Hales is as bad. England has won only one international trophy so far. They are playing at home and have a really good chance of winning the tournament with the team they had. Bairstow and Buttler have been in excellent form in the IPL. Jofra Archer has done extremely well too. Ben Stokes has had a mixed season. Nearly all the bowlers have done well in the domestic matches so far. Joe Root has been in excellent form. Eoin Morgan has done well. There was a sense of complacency with Alex Hales. I do hope that he gets the help he needs so that he can come back into the game.
Another story that has gone fairly unnoticed is the arrest of Ness Wadia who is a co-owner of Kings XI Punjab for having 25 grams of cannabis resin. There is the very real possibility of Kings XI Punjab being suspended by the BCCI for the next IPL for bringing the team and league into disrepute.
I have to state that there is no mention of what drug Alex Hales used. I am going to assume that it is cannabis. There are rumours floating about that it could have been heroin. It does not matter either way. The whole point is that he has been taking a banned substance. I have read the section on cannabis on the Word Anti Doping Agency. WADA has relaxed its cannabis limits significantly over the years. This makes the whole situation even more grave.
I absolutely hate the term “recreational drug.” Cannabis is currently illegal in most of the countries where Cricket is played. It has been allowed for medicinal purposes but it is still highly unavailable after nearly a year. My stand on cannabis is clear. It is a drug and should not be legalised. It can be used to treat serious medical conditions where traditional medicines have not worked. Even then I support taking of cannabis only as an oil or tablet. I do not support smoking or consuming it in any other way.
I do believe that this incident with Alex Hales is part of a larger issue that has started to develop within the game. The Spirit of Cricket is becoming less tangible by the day. Mankading does not break the spirit as it is within the laws. Taking drugs, ball tampering and even the Ben Stokes incident brings the game into disrepute. The thing that has upset me the most though is how Jofra Archer was treated. He is a citizen of the U.K. and has met the qualification criteria to play for England. There was a bigger issue made about his cultural fit into the team than Alex Hales drugs issue. I am glad that the senior players of the team took a stand which had an impact on the decision of Alex Hale being banned. These are the moments that define the character of a team. Eoin Morgan may not be willing to sing the National Anthem but his stand clearly shows that he cares about the team and will do everything in his power to protect it. That is something I admire and which gives me hope that England will do well in the World Cup. Talent alone cannot win games. All forms of Cricket tests the mental strength of the players and teams. England has had a small hiccup but I do believe that this will help them and make them stronger.
As always I look forward to your comments.