Amidst the entire hullabaloo over the spot-fixing episodes, and allegations and counter-allegations flying left, right and centre, the ODI series between the tainted Pakistan and England seems like a completely futile experiment. And, and if to add to the woes, the ODIs itself are being investigated by the ICC. To make matters worse, Ijaz Butt has come out with unproven allegations against the England team, plus there has been a spat between Wahab Riaz and Jonathan Trott.
Every that could have possibly gone wrong has taken place in the last few weeks between England and Pakistan. Yet, the series has continued for some inexplicable reasons, even after the players themselves have publicly acknowledged that they would be relieved once the series gets over. And when the result of a tournament doesn’t matter, there’s something horribly wrong which has to be set correct.
Also, this isn’t the time to malign the already under-fire game. The media, the ICC as well as the players, past and present, must not come out with ‘sensational’ revelations just to be in the news or settle personal scores. For true lovers of the sport, this is the time to come out and support the game, i.e. if they believe that only a handful of them are among the culprits.
The timing of the controversy is ironically not ‘spot on’, what with just under 150 days left for the World Cup to get underway. But then, it must be seen as a bit of good that this happened before the mega tournament and not too close to it. What the ICC anti-corruption unit as well as the PCB should do now is to swing into action and work at a rather rapid pace. They do not have much time on hand to reduce the damage done to cricket. And since this is not the first time that match-fixing has reared its ugly head, the punishment for the guilty should be stringent.
One might say that if some like Mohammad Amir is found guilty, he should be let off with a severe warning considering he is still in his impressionable years. However, that might set a wrong precedent for the coming generations and so be it Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif or Amir or anyone else from any other country proved culpable of the crime has to be shown the door; this needs to be done to reduce the damage done to the name of the game. It might still not be enough though, and a lot more efforts are needed to get the game back on track.
First things first, the boards of each respective teams need to make sure that the player representing the country has a clean chit as far as such illegal acts are concerned. Also, they must be sure that he is worthy of playing for the country and also that his chances of getting involved in filthy deeds are minimal. Sounds irrational. However considering the current scenario, it is important that players are given some sort of a ‘character certificate’ before donning national colours.
There is not much the ICC can do except trying their best to curb corruption. After all, the betting mafia is so widespread. The problem thus needs to be dealt with at the grassroot levels.
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