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Selfish motives can hardly augur well for future of cricket

Posted By Suneer Chowdhary On Sep 1 2010 @ 4:26 pm In Cricket | No Comments

Pakistani cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have been allegedly involved in match-fixing in the Lord’s Test match [1] between Pakistan and England. They have been accused of bowling no-balls at pre-decided times in collusion with a bookie. It is a menace that had first exploded in this sport in 2000. Since then, the ICC, cricket’s highest body, has endeavoured to keep the fixers at bay, but it will be fair to say that match-fixing is rampant in cricket even today.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has been in news for all the wrong reasons for some months now, and the outrageous revelations of match-fixing couldn’t have come at a more inappropriate time for them. And while they continue to live in a mode of denial, the first fallout of the controversy comes in the form of the loss of a sponsor, BoomBoom – their kit provider.

I am probably going a bit too far here. Let me push the pause button, probably even rewind a little. Two of the Pakistani bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, have been accused by a British tabloid of spot-fixing and the allegations have been founded on the basis of a sting operation that was conducted by them. While this did not legally prove their guilt, one thing was for keeps – the video had enough explosives to burn the faces of those who believed that the sport was as clean as the Caribbean Sea. To be frank, with the number of instances of bookmaker approaches to cricketers increasing rather rapidly, it was a time-bomb waiting to explode.

It is unfortunate then, the cricket boards of Pakistan and England are still squabbling amongst themselves without any regard for the future of the sports – and for different reasons – while the apex cricketing body continues to remain a mute spectator with as much power as a fangless snake.

The English cricket board is in full cognizance of the fact that the smokes have risen due to the uncontrolled bushfires by the name of corruption in Pakistani cricket for years now, and that some of the English cricketers are reluctant to play against a side which has possesses six tainted cricketers. Unfortunately, their bother is the monetary losses that they will suffer in case the tour is called off. So, it is status quo, which is a bit stunning in itself, given that the English government refuses to allow the cricket team to tour Zimbabwe because of a widespread corruption in the country. However, the same government refuses to stop the current tour against a more corrupt cricket board, from going onto become one of the biggest farces in the history of cricket.

Pakistan have their own issues. There have been reports emanating with an alarming alacrity on how the Pakistan board is one of the havens of match-fixing and other illegal activities, and that they stand to lose if the players are actually indicted by the Scotland Yard. Hence, they have been left with no option but to defend their players and back them to such a hilt that I almost get the sense that it is not match-fixing but a loss of form that one is speaking of here.

Morally, the least the Pakistan board could have done was to suspend those players who are allegedly involved in the conspiracy. The probe, which is being conducted by one of the ablest in the world – the Scotland Yard – would have revealed the truth and if the players did escape being found guilty, they could have easily admitted the players back. Really, the board owed cricket that much. Instead, the Pakistan board is up in arms over a conspiracy being hatched against them by some jealous parties!

And then there is the ICC. Toothless tigers. Fangless snakes. Amongst others. For reasons beyond the known, they usually arrive late on the scene of the crime, and even after doing so, seem so confused that a baby in a strip-joint would probably look more at home. It has been four days since they were apprised of the situation and the last I heard was that they had had a teleconference with the Pakistani and English cricket boards. The innocent-till-found-guilty garb came out from there as well, and although there are reports that the ICC is pushing PCB to suspend the few cricketers before the tour of England resumes, the latter has managed to snub them so far. The ICC, to their credit are still trying!

The situation is such that it does keep changing with every passing hour, but what I pin my hopes on are the investigations by the Scotland Yard. Even if the Scotland Yard does not possess the capability to arrest any of the Pakistani players due to a technical glitch, the poof it collects and disburses will go a long way in ensuring that the guilty are punished by the ones at the top. The question, though, is who will guard the guard? What is there to say that the higher echelons of cricket are not a part of it? Too many questions without too many answers!

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[1] match-fixing in the Lord’s Test match: http://live.cricketdiaries.com/cricket/757/england-vs-pakistan-lords-26-august-2010/Scorecard.html

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