A sport for gentlemen no more…

Published: August 30, 2010
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Cricket was once considered a game for gentlemen. Do Pakistani players meet this standard?

I don’t know where to begin from. It hurts when your beloved country features in all kinds of terrible news. As if the ministers’ fake degree scandal, perennial bombings, a deadly aviation disaster, the country’s worst floods and the Sialkot lynching weren’t enough to torment us the serpent of match fixing in cricket has raised its head again.

In Pakistan, cricket is the most played and followed sport. It is one way the ordinary man tries to seek happiness. But while the sport was once known as a gentleman’s game sadly, there is nothing gentlemanly about Pakistani cricket anymore. Allegations of ball tampering, and match fixing are nothing new. The last time Pakistan faced such allegations was after a lacklustre performance in the 1999 cricket World Cup final. Australia had won that match by 8 wickets with 179 balls remaining. That defeat had opened a Pandora’s box of match fixing allegation and as a result many Pakistani cricketers were banned, some for life like Salim Malik.

In 2006, in a bizarre move, Inzamam forfeited a Test match at Oval to protest of ball tempering accusation. England was awarded victory in that match.

While one can accept criticism and even doping scandals allegations of rigging the match are the worst. First, the action is against all spirit of sportsmanship. Matches are played for both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Cricket is glamorous enough and a good cricketer can make his fortune with the money that he earns by legal means. As far as an intrinsic reward is concerned that is where the idea of competition lies. Matches are played to excel, to employ your art and to seek the joy that one feels after a good performance. But it would seem that like everyone else, Pakistan cricketers too have turned to short cuts for making big bucks overnight.

In the recent sting operation carried out by an undercover News of the World reporter, posing as a front man for a Far East gambling cartels as many as four Pakistani players, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer and Kamran Akmal were revealed to be involved in match rigging. That expose reveals how the middleman named Mazhar Majeed accepted £150,000 to arrange for Pakistani bowlers (Aamer and Asif) to bawl no balls at certain time.

The middleman has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmarks. The Pakistani team’s manager Yawar Saeed has confirmed helping Scotland Yard with questioning of Pakistani players.

Irrespective of the result of ongoing Test match (which might be abandoned) the match fixing allegation is a huge stain on the face of Pakistan cricket and if charges are proven then it will take Pakistan cricket a long time to emerge from the ashes of this ignominy. How could these young players take such steps right under the noses of Pakistan team’s coach, manager and other officials? It is time to resort to the strictest possible means to control such irregularities and if the said players are involved it would be appropriate to ban them for life.

ayesha.umar

Ayesha Umar

Interested in current affairs, cultural and gender-based issues Ayesha religiously tweets @ayeshaesque. In her free time she blogs at Fifth Junction and indulges in random photography.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Isfand

    Pakistani players should be punished for wht they have done but its simply ridicolous tht we are punishing only them,wht abt all the politicians tht have escaped from corruption charges in 2007 thanks to the nro?Wht abt Malik? (the interior minister),Zardari?Nawaz Sharif?We must punish corupton at every level in the state not only in sports!!Recommend

  • http://sadaf-fayyaz.blogspot.com/ SadafFayyaz

    Corruption is every where now, i was surprised why cricket was left? now that surprise is even gone……….Recommend

  • Fizzah

    I just commented on another story about this issue and will say it again here briefly. I’m astonished to see the FAKE photo and the silly video that’s creating all this furor and even more sad is the reaction from our people. Take a look closely at the Salman Butt photo with the alleged ‘match fixer’ and the ‘reporter’, it’s such a badly pasted photo on top of those 2 guys’ photo. He’s clearly not standing with them,his photo is pasted on them.

    And the video is a piece of trash! It’s clearly made after the match and the way the camera man is making the video from the front with the fixer in the main frame and the way he’s arranging the money on the table for added effect, it’s all so cheap and completely fake!

    Anyone can make such a video and malign us coz they know our people will not stand up for themselves but will join in with the enemy and self destruct!Recommend

  • abc

    Miss Fizza

    Havent you noticed that the accused themselves have failed to utter a word of defense for themselves? Please have a look at the press conference that was held between the captain, the teams manager and the media. He look guilty as sin, terrified of being caught, and not once has he claimed his innocence. Havent you noticed you are the only one who noticed the badly photoshopped picture, when the Scotland Yard and now the Interpol being involved hasnt? Secondly, as far as the pictures are concerned, he was their official agent and the picture doesnt speak much. Yes that damning video could’ve been recorded afterwards, but did you see the one where Mazher Majeed offered his jacket to Umar Amin and Waqas Riaz. Did you see the blatancy of the no balls? Hell, the most damning evidence is the press conference. Salman Butt is shaking. His english is quite good, and he’s stammering badly. An innocent man would take every chance to shout that he’s innocent. Enough said.Recommend

  • abc

    In the press conference, the reporter even asks him, whether he would like to deny the allegations against him. He first says they are just allegations we will see what happens of them, and then he says he hasnt heard anything about him. LIAR.

    Being the captain, he is responsible for the entire team. Recommend

  • Shan

    “Anyone can make such a video and malign us coz they know our people will not stand up for themselves but will join in with the enemy and self destruct!”

    I hate to be mean but it is people like this who have ruined this country.

    Please wake up. Please change yourself. I beg of you.Recommend

  • http://theterrorland.blogspot.com/ Nasira Parveen

    Will see. What the reality is?!Recommend

  • Anoop

    I hope ICC bans them for life to make an example out of them. If the choice is given to PCB then you can trust the PCB to do the wrong thing.

    Thank God ICC has jurisdiction now. I hope the players are put in jail. Such shameful behaviour by the Pakistanis in England. Shame.Recommend

  • Ebby

    Dear Anoop,
    Your comment reflects the darkness of your charcter and intensity of hatness for Pakistan. This is not the first time Pakistani players are facing these allegations, we wish all these allegations remains allegations and nothing proves against them.

    I would really appreciate your unbiased comments.

    RegardsRecommend

  • Anoop

    @Ebby,

    “Your comment reflects the darkness of your charcter and intensity of hatness for Pakistan. ”

    –>So anyone who criticizes a Pakistani or who condemns cheating and asks for strict punishment hates Pakistan? Then, the whole of journal community in the world hates Pakistan.

    Show me one thing that that is false or fabricated or is unfair. I’ll accept your comment.

    If you cant I’ll consider myself correct.

    “we wish all these allegations remains allegations and nothing proves against them. ”

    –> Well, the evidence already in the media is so overwhelming and concrete that I dont know how you arrive at this. Hoping against hope, I suppose. ICC has promised probe will be completed before Pakistan leaves England.

    Under English law(Read The News editorial from yesterday), any person who defrauds someone(Book makers in this case) is liable to get 10 years behind bars as maximum punishment and fine. Thankfully, English courts are not that overburdened and finish off the cases soon. So, we’ll know if your wish will be fulfilled or not.Recommend

  • Ebby

    @ Anoop
    i wonder why you are so desperate, videos may be tempered and photos can be edited so wait for the verdict. Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Ebby,

    Verdict by the ICC will be out soon, I think. Courts in Britain might take longer. So, we agree that if the verdict comes out as guilty they should be banned for life?

    The videos and photos can be edited but there is evidence apart from that, for instance, the money found in the Player’s room. The fact that the players were hanging out with that Majeed guy.

    Check this out, where in a Pakistani website PakPassion, Pakistani players had given interview thanking Majeed for various things like arranging various sponsorship and marketing contracts.

    It says,“How familiar the brothers are with the players is also evident from the UK-based Pakpassion.net, a popular fan website that regularly carries out interviews with Pakistan’s top cricketers. In a number of interviews with players such as Salman Butt and Saeed Ajmal, Azhar and Mazhar were thanked for setting up the interaction.

    For a while, between 2008 and 2009, the website had a regular section called “The Agents Views”, in which Azhar would update readers on the activities of a number of players. The introduction to this section calls Azhar the UK-based agent for a number of players including Abdul Razzaq, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdur Rauf as well as others.

    The same website also revealed that Mazhar was in Australia during Pakistan’s tour at the start of this year. Pakistan lost every single international through the series; an inquiry in the aftermath of the fractious tour revealed that coaches Aaqib Javed and Intikhab Alam suspected Kamran Akmal of deliberately underperforming. Allegations centred, in particular, around the second Test in Sydney, which Pakistan lost from a dominant position by 36 runs. “

    Besides there is a lot of video and photos available as evidence, and its really really difficult to tamper with all the photos and especially videos.

    I am desperate, yes, to see the guilty behind bars(according to UK law cheating is an imprison-able offense) or atleast banned for life. Kids in my country should not grow up thinking its OK to cheat in cricket or any other sport.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Sorry, I forgot to mention CricInfo says that about PakPassion.net. Its link is:

    http://www.cricinfo.com/england-v-pakistan-2010/content/current/story/474920.htmlRecommend