Sunday 5 September 2010

What next for Pakistan Cricket?

It was only a couple of weeks ago I was thinking to myself,

‘There hasn’t been any controversy this year in the Test series between England and Pakistan’

You can always rely on some cricketing controversy whenever Pakistan tour England. With perfect timing the News of the World printed its exclusive last week which claimed that Mazhar Majeed a cricket agent had taken £150,000 as payment for three no balls to be bowled at pre-arranged times during the fourth Test at Lords.

The allegations are proving to be the biggest match-fixing scandal in recent years.
It’s been reported that Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt, and fast bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif face 23 charges between them under the ICC’s (International Cricket Council) anti-corruption code of conduct.

Last Friday, the three cricketers were questioned by anti-fraud police in relation to the bowling of the three no - balls.

Although no players have so far been found guilty of any offence, investigators have recovered between £35,00 in marked cash from the hotel rooms of Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir.

From everything I’ve read, it’s not looking good for the three accused players. I’d be amazed if at the end the investigation nobody if found guilty of something.

Now today the Pakistani batsman Yasir Hameed has accused some of his fellow teammates of fixing a number of games.

If things couldn’t get any worse for Pakistan, the story is now snowballing to the point that there’s now question marks over other matches which took place in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean this year and other Test matches.

There’s something rotten at the very heart of Pakistani cricket. Cricket in Pakistan seems more susceptible to betting corruption. Even if the allegations are found proved, how do we know if anything will change in the culture of Pakistan cricket?

If the players are found guilty, they're likely to face some sort of ban from the game, probably a lifetime ban.

If this is the case I agree with a ban. I can’t think of any other punishment that could send out a stronger message that cricket will not tolerate such corruption.

A lot of people are making a case for the 18 year old bowler Mohammad Amir to be shown some leniency on account of his age, inexperience and poor background.

I have tended to agree with this myself, I think it would be difficult for most 18 year olds to say no in this situation. As for his background I've been reading that since a young age he’s been paid a very good salary - enough to support his family.

Maybe nothing special in terms of UK salaries but in comparison to what people live on in Pakistan it’s still quite comfortable. It’s made me think again about how much sympathy should be afforded to him.

Perhaps Pakistan need some time away from international cricket in order to sort themselves out. Not an outright ban, but just a time away from the international game to get their house in order, and show the cricketing world that they're putting in place mechanisms to combat corruption.

Pakistan are now in a position that they can’t play cricket at home anymore because of security issues and now there’s the issue over match fixing, they can’t really go on like this.

Suspending or banning Pakistan from international cricket would be I admit a drastic measure, it would also be a loss to the game.

This summer they’ve shown flashes of brilliance along with ineptitude, but as a cricketing nation they’ve always been highly talented and entertaining.

Cricket needs Pakistan.

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