Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The Dark Clouds Over Pakistani Cricket
I strongly believe that the rest of the tour should be suspended and Pakistan should voluntarily put a temporary moratorium on itself from playing international cricket until it sorts out the mess. The current PCB should be disbanded and a fully empowered investigation commission should be appointed to work through this episode expeditiously and without interference. My candidates would be respected jurists like Justice Saeed-u-Zaman Siddiqui, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim etc. along with former cricketers like Majid Khan and Zaheer Abbas. This commission should first and foremost establish facts by examining all evidence and interviewing players, coaches and management in collaboration with ACSU and ICC. It should then clearly lay out the facts in a public report as soon as possible. The report should be accompanied with clear recommendations of lifetime bans for anyone found to have involvement in spot or match fixing.
If Pakistan does not tackle this seriously and establish undiluted integrity to its cricket this cancer will never go away. For too long in Pakistani cricket all inconvenient facts have been swept under the rug, the best performers shielded from the consequences of their actions (Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, Waqar Younis) and even diluted Qayyum report recommendations not implemented. The result has been an ever spiraling institutional rot and rampant corruption and indiscipline. The current state of affairs is particularly terrible for those players who have resisted what seem to be ever present illegal temptations. To have any chance that players, present and future, would not have their integrity in perpetual doubt is for Pakistan’s cricket to clean the stables ruthlessly. Half-hearted measures will ensure that Pakistan cricket will always remain suspect, even if allowed into the international fold. There will be no no-ball, wide, dropped catch and loss that will escape the suspicion of corruption. Like almost everybody I feel the most sympathy for the 18-year old Mohammad Amir and I think the strongest case exists for him to get a mitigated sentence but we should remember that these are exactly the excuses that were made for Mohammad Asif in the past. We were told that he was “young, poor and uneducated” but he has demonstrated even before this episode his non-stop penchant for making mischief.
Additionally, some people have argued that spot fixing is a lesser evil than match fixing but this statement completely misunderstands the tremendous destructive effect of any illegal activity. Firstly, if there are players who have gone down the route of taking money to alter the game in a small way there is no reason for them not to keep pushing the boundary by increments if the pay-off is larger. Secondly, the distorting lens of corruption affects every decision you make as a player. If you are inside the corrupt mafia you will systematically punish people outside the circle or more likely try to exclude them from the team entirely (Rashid Latif and Basit Ali in the past, perhaps Mohammad Yousuf recently who Salman Butt did not want back in the team). You will also potentially rebel against a clean captain including underperforming to get him out (like what seems to have happened to Younis Khan in New Zealand). These are only examples. The entire behavior pattern is affected by the dynamic of illegality.
As a passionate Pakistan cricket fan, I will not be following the rest of the series if it goes ahead. I will not watch Pakistan play cricket again until I have some assurance that I am watching a clean contest. I will be waiting on the sidelines with a heavy heart until there is reasonable belief that justice has been done to those players who upheld their integrity and that the crooks have been permanently thrown out of the game.