Until this series, I only knew Graeme Swann for his bowling. The guy was the best spinner in the world; he had run through the Aussies at home; old people started talking about some guy called Fred Titmus.
But now, I find Swann may also be a really, really annoying idiot, and that too a racially insensitive one. Read Andy Bull’s profile in The Guardian for details on the first charge; the guy’s dressing room antics (and his recent drunk driving) put me in mind of the stupid jocks who weren’t supposed to find refuge in a game like cricket. (Sigh.)
What’s worse, Swann indulges in a dash of racial humor. Take a look at his “Behind The Ashes” video series; I followed a flattering link that said it offered an “irreverent” (meaning: funny) look at life on tour. It does that, and most of it is actually quite funny, until you get to the part in Episode 3 where Swann basically makes fun of coach Mushtaq Ahmed’s accent and inability to speak English well to his face for a good minute. (See below at 2:30.)
Now, it’s possible “doing the Indian accent” bit is funny in England because of its much higher Asian population (so accepted is the accent, it is akin to making fun of any regional — read: Yorkshire — accent, for e.g.). Generally, though, it’s not a kosher thing to do in America, where it’s seen as needlessly picking on a very, very small percentage of the population. Not that it’s not done; God knows I’ve had to answer thousands of questions on why I don’t sound like Apu from The Simpsons. (I also absolutely despise having to listen to someone do the accent with the expectation that I laugh at it, as if I’m part of the joke. Swann does this to Mushtaq in the video, and you can tell he thinks Swann is laughing at him, not with him.)
I might be making a mountain out of a mole here. But just take a look at the video. Mushtaq seems like such a nice guy; I almost feel sorry he has to spend his days surrounded, almost universally, by white people. Time to break out the diversity sessions, ECB.
Like I said, the rest of the video is fairly funny (esp. the sprinkler dance bit at the end). But wasn’t the Ahmed moment so, so awkward? Back me up, NRIs — how many times have you gone through this exchange?