It is a well-known fact that Pakistani cricketers are not very comfortable speaking in English. During the current tour of Australia, their T20I captain Babar Azam decided to use a translator for post-match presentation ceremonies.
On day 1 of the second Test between Australia and Pakistan, the host broadcasters decided to conduct an on-field interview with Shaheen Afridi – Pakistan's fast bowler – after tea was declared and the players were on their way to the dressing room. Not surprisingly, Afridi had a tough time but he did wade his way through the questions.
Unfortunately, one Australian radio journalist, Tony Tardio, decided to disparage Afridi's attempts at answering the interviewer's question. In his tweet, he wrote: "Just heard an interview with a Pakistani fast bowler at the Adelaide Oval on Fox sports and I can say with a fair bit of certainty that I didn't understand one word."
This drew an angry response from not just Pakistani fans but even Indians, as well as former Australian cricketer and commentator Dean Jones. The latter gave a reasonably strong answer.
"At least they try Tony... English is their second language and our guys don't speak Urdu when they are in UAE for matches when being interviewed..," Jones wrote in response to Tardio. To this, the radio personality responded by writing: "Now that would be something Deano ... David Warner speaking Urdu .. love it"
However, Dean Jones also made it clear that his comments shouldn't be construed as indignant. "Tony Tardio is one of the greats In radio to me.. I know where he is coming from.. it wasn't a pot shot at him.. just saying at least they try." This was in response to a tweet by another user who said Jones "hit Tony for a six."
But there was a lot of anger from sub-continental Twitterati. One person called Naveed said on the social media forum: "English is just a language, not a criteria to judge a person's intelligence or education. For your info, English is not our 1st language, but still we can speak English, can you speak Urdu? Sportsman need talent in cricket, they don't need English."
In response, Tardio himself tried to clarify that his comments weren't meant to insult the Pakistani fast bowler. "I understand perfectly Naveed .. I had a mum who ver spoke English but I admired her attempt to just like I admired his
Another user saw the positive side of Tardio's comments. "In one tweet you have managed to bring India and Pakistan together.. What even Donald Trump tried but could not."