The Indian Cricket Team wearing camouflage caps may seem a harmless and innocent gesture. To some, it may be emblematic of Indian cricket team’s unrelenting love for all things Indian. However, a dissection of the gesture of the Indian squad reveals a sinister and dark side of Indian state.

Firstly, if the Indian cricket wanted to mourn the death of soldiers in the Pulwama attack, it should have worn black armbands – the standard gesture used by sportsmen the world over to mourn or pay respect. Wearing anything else – such as specific messages or carrying flags or pictures – is strictly prohibited in most professional sports. In this case, in the context of the skirmishes between Pakistan and India, when Indian politicians are using allegiance to the military as a political statement, the camouflage caps unmistakably take on a political hue – one that the ICC should have been aware off.

Wearing camouflage caps suggested that the players wanted to bring a political issue to the cricket field. This is in clear violation of the rules of International Cricket Council (ICC). However, the response of the ICC after Pakistan objected to Indian cricket team’s gesture was contradictory to its own rules. It is not only conflicting but allowing India to wear such caps also shows that ICC is a toothless tiger when it comes to making Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) follow ICC rules. And ICC has turned blind eyes to the fact that Indian government has many a time used BCCI as a political tool to isolate Pakistan in the field of cricket – one of the many facets of hybrid warfare that India has been engaged into against Pakistan. The BCCI had already become involved politically, yet the ICC remained blind.

Allowing Indian cricket team to show solidarity with its army by wearing army caps speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of ICC. According to the rules of ICC “approvals shall not be granted for messages which relate to religious, political or racial activities or causes.” The same ICC reprimanded Moeen Ali, English cricket player, for wearing wristbands with messages of solidarity with Palestinians some four years ago. Considering the abrupt shifts in the stance of ICC over political messages, Tariq Ali rightly asks, “imagine the row if the Pakistan team were to wear pro-Kashmir armbands in response.”