September 3, 2010

Cricket's New Darkest Hour

So the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided to remain undecided about the notorious three accused of spot fixing. Why doesn’t the PCB ever take such things seriously? If you operate in a nation that has been crisis’ poster boy then why would three cricketers trying to make a few quick bucks bother anyone?

This latest piece of a puzzle that has plagued cricket for almost a decade now should, yet again, be the proverbial final nail in the coffin of a mindset that still believes cricket to be a gentleman’s game. More than its players it’s the Pakistan Cricket Board that needs to be taken to task. Players come and go but the suits remain forever and it’s this very mentality that has rendered laws useless. You see the people who run these establishments, especially in the so called ‘emerging cricket powerhouses’ are not sportsmen by any stretch of imagination and yet they could beat you any day of the week and twice on a Sunday. People like the ICC Chairman Elect, Mr. Sharad Pawar are more used to playing the power games in the corridors of Indian politics and you think some thing like a match-fixing row would ever rattle his conscious. When asked if there was any Indian connection in the Salman Butt-Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir troika all he mumbled was half-hearted and routine ‘don’t be stupid.’

All right, but what if tomorrow there is an Indian connection found to the whole mess? Trust me but Mr. Pawar won’t look stupid; instead he’ll look at us and smirk as if saying ‘How could you not see this coming’ and ‘I swear I’ll clean this mess up’! In the past as well there have been Indian players like Md. Azaruddin, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja who have been named, banned and honorably reinstated (not specifically in that order) in connection with match fixing but we must realize that cricket is bigger than any controversy. It’s bigger than even Lalit Modi or Jagmohan Dalimya.

It’s only us in India who seem to taking this latest from Pakistan a little too seriously. Of course, the reputation of the game has been tarnished but wasn’t the game disgraced when Shahid Afridi literally ate the ball while tampering with it? Afridi is still the captain of the Pakistan one-day and T-20 side! Asif, who took some money here, has been in the past caught on charges of match fixing and illegal possession of drugs! And if that isn’t enough then Pakistan doesn’t have an option to wicket keeper Kamran Akmal whose name crops up almost like a footnote every time matching fixing or game throwing is mentioned.

There is no crisis big enough for the Pakistan Cricket Board for everything pales in comparison to the darkness that engulfs the very nation. It would be foolish of the fans to think that ICC (it’s not as powerful as they perceive themselves to be) would really push PCB to do some thing. It would be unfair to think that PCB will ban or even drop these three for doing so would mean accepting that some thing’s rotten in cricket Pakistan. Like everything else PCB has asked for more evidence before thinking of taking some action. They have, in the mean time, put together a fact finding team.

So where does that leave cricket and its reputation?

Well, to be honest had this been some other team the threat to cricket’s image would be a little more serious. But who cares about cricketing crisis in Pakistan? Seriously. They weren’t allowed to participate in Champions Trophy and yet the show went on; no one wants to tour them but the cricketing calendar isn’t suffering; we don’t Pakistani players in IPL and IPL’s only gotten bigger since their absence. Do the math.

If one really wants to solve this match fixing issue once and for all then rather than banning a handful of players or legalizing betting, the Pakistan cricket team should be banned for five years! That’s the only way any real impact will be seen. Why do Pakistani players, more than any other cricketing nation, get themselves caught in such situations? The truth be told with no IPL or advertisements or regular cricket these players hardly get an opportunity to make big money. So when someone tells them to deliver a No Ball for a couple of thousands of pounds they see nothing wrong in it. And let’s face it a few years of not playing Pakistan isn’t going to spoil any plans. Radical but not totally impossible.

But who knows maybe clean and honest cricket won’t be so appealing!

This was written for Buzz in Town

4 Responses to “Cricket's New Darkest Hour”

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