World Cup cricketer ducks out of delivering for brewery sponsor

AS SCOTLAND'S cricketers take centre stage at the World Cup with a match against Australia in the West Indies this afternoon, one of them will be sporting national colours with a slight difference.

Majid Haq, a 24-year-old spin bowler from Paisley, has faced a dilemma ever since the game's governing body, Cricket Scotland, struck a shirt-sponsorship deal with Caledonian Brewery in January.

Scotland's blue-and-white World Cup strip and all of their training gear bears the logo of Deuchars IPA, one of the country's most popular real ales.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Haq, as a Muslim, would be disrespecting his faith if he endorsed the consumption of alcohol, and will therefore cover all the beer logos with black tape when he competes in today's match, which will be viewed by a worldwide television audience numbering in the billions.

"It's for religious reasons," said Haq, after training at Warner Park in St Kitts' capital, Basseterre, yesterday.

"We were on tour in Kenya in January when I first heard that Deuchars was going to be our shirt sponsor, and I just told Cricket Scotland straight away that I wouldn't be able to wear their logos because of my religion. They respected my beliefs."

Euan McIntyre, Scotland's tour manager and operations manager at Cricket Scotland, said: "Majid felt that because of his religion it would not be appropriate to wear any branding promoting alcohol.

"As far as I understand he wasn't unhappy about the situation, but just asked politely if there was any way he could avoid wearing the logos.

"Unfortunately, it came to our attention too late for the company that makes our merchandise, Surridge, to reprint the shirts specially for Majid."

Haq has also covered up the Deuchars IPA logo on the front of his training kit, and in last week's game against Bangladesh, the logo could not be seen on his shirt sleeve.

Haq is not the first Muslim cricketer to take this form of action against alcohol sponsorship. Hashim Amla, the South Africa batsman, refused to wear shirts emblazoned with Castle Lager logos on his Test debut in 2004, and after lengthy discussions he agreed to compromise by taping over the offending material.

A sponsorship logo will also be missing from the shirts of the Scotland rugby team for this weekend's match against France in Paris. French regulations do not allow alcohol sponsorship on sports shirts, and the name of Scotland sponsor The Famous Grouse will be replaced by the letters 'TFG' as usual during Saturday's match in the Six Nations Championship at the Stade de France. Whenever Wales play in France, the logo of sponsor Brains, a Welsh brewer, is replaced by 'Brawn'.

Scotland's cricketers are playing in Group A of the ninth Cricket World Cup, competing against South Africa and the Netherlands as well as today's opponents, the double world champions Australia. All their matches will be at Warner Park, Basseterre, which was rebuilt last year and accommodates 10,000 people.

NEVER ON A SUNDAY

ISLAM is not the only faith whose adherents have on occasion found their beliefs at odds with their sport.

British Olympic record-holder Jonathan Edwards, widely regarded as the finest triple jumper of all time, initially refused to compete on Sundays due to his Christian faith. He did not take part in the 1991 World Championships but entered the same contest two years' later after reasoning that God had given him his talent in order for him to compete.

Perhaps the most famous example is that of Eric Liddell, the Scots athlete whose refusal to race on Sunday forced him to withdraw from the 100m event in the 1924 Paris Olympics and begin training instead for the 400m event which he went on to win.

Raith Rovers and former Rangers footballer Marvin Andrews is also a devout Christian and does play games on Sundays - but he once played despite being ruled out through injury after insisting God would keep him fit.