The recent allegations of spot-fixing as well as match-fixing on the Pakistan cricket team have taken away the sheen from what was an otherwise intriguing Test series. It was a shame to see players from both sides (Pakistan and England) just going through the motions on what turned out to be the last day of the Lord’s Test, owing to the clouds surrounding the game. It wasn’t Test cricket, and if the current storm isn’t dealt with an iron hand, the game will never be the same again.
The one-day series between Pakistan and England may be going ahead as scheduled, but one wonders how many will have the trust to watch the matches, believing cricket is a ‘clean’ game. Yes, that’s the gigantic task the ICC and PCB have in front of them at the moment.
Leave the game aside, first and foremost, a thorough (in the true sense) investigation needs to be conducted into the happenings in the Pakistan dressing room, as well as on and off the field during the notorious period. And once they get to the bottom of it, the harshest punishment needs to be given. Pakistan failed to do this when the ‘inaugural’ match-fixing scandal broke out in 2000. It was out in the public very soon that the judge and the PCB weren’t lenient towards certain players and allowed them to get away lightly. As a result of which, apprehensions remained over whether the game was indeed cent per cent clean.
Now, with the latest accusations on the Pakistan players, a lot of fingers will be pointed at what transpired in 2000… if only they had dealt with the situation in a more transparent manner. But then, one must also remembered that there were big names involved, without whom it would have been difficult for Pakistan cricket to move forward. As such, there would have been immense pressure on the authorities concerned to do the fine balancing act. And so, a couple of scapegoats – one at the end of his career and the other whose international journey was over as soon as it got underway – were quickly identified.
The crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time for Pakistan. No team is willing to tour the nation owing to security concerns. The one team that did show some bravado in the recent past, were greeted with bullets and returned home injured and hurt, apart from realising how foolish their decision was. Following the gloomy incident, the country also lost its right to host its share of World Cup games. This was succeeded by the now revoked life bans and fines, a result of the disaster Down Under. The only high point for Pakistan in recent times was their Test win over the Aussies after a mighty 15 years. But even that has faded into distant memory what with the catastrophic loss in Sydney also coming under scanner.
The saddest part is that a promising youngster, and the future hope of Pakistan cricket, Mohammad Amir, finds himself in the middle of the storm among others. The other Mohammad’s (Asif) name cropping up was least surprising since he has proved his notorious streak plenty of times in the past. However, all the names either need to be cleared or indicted. This investigation and its outcome cannot go the way of 2000. Else, the crowds would slowly but surely start doubting the credentials of this beautiful game. On the contrary, the harshest punishment needs to be meted out if anyone is found guilty. They should never be allowed to step on to the cricket field for their country ever again. After all, they knew what they were getting into and cannot feign ignorance.
It would also be in the interest of the game for those under suspicion to be kept away from the international arena till the matter is completely sorted out. One isn’t pronouncing anyone guilty as yet. However, if the players have a clear conscience it would be in their interest as well to step back and allow the law to take its course. Certainly, they wouldn’t be able to concentrate on their cricketing expertise under such a volatile atmosphere.
A famous saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. The opposite holds true in context of cricket’s latest controversy.
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