Cricket scandal: Out or not out?

Published: August 30, 2010
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Asif delivered a perfect, regulation inch-over-the-line no-ball

While the immediate reaction to our cricket team’s recently discovered shenanigans is of hate and shame, there are many Pakistanis who believe that it is too soon to judge. To control one’s emotions and wait for more compelling evidence is both admirable and astute.

However, what this evidence will be remains to be seen.

Everything that has come to light so far may be convincing, but none of it sounds like damning proof that could stick in a court of law.

Phones have been confiscated. Mazhar Majeed was an agent and was well within his rights to be calling Pakistani players. In fact, I would expect it to be routine. The video seems to be from a well hidden but poor quality camera, getting a reliable time-stamp from which seems unlikely.

Pictures of cricketers with Mazhar are also, just pictures with a sports agent and do not reveal anything malicious or out of the ordinary. The only angle that seems to hold any real legal threat is that Scotland Yard intend to compare the currency notes found from the Pakistani players’ hotel rooms with those confiscated from Mazhar.

What ‘similarity’ between notes could be submitted as evidence also remains vague, my best guess is that the serial numbers could be adjacent (perhaps the lawyers amongst us could elaborate). Other than this, nothing seems to really stick.

I am in no way defending the players, nor do I think they are innocent. Judging from pictures of the no-balls, the body language of accused players and the uncertainty of the press conference, I am quite convinced that our players are guilty of spot-fixing. The manager and captain never even seemed to plead that they were innocent; their stance seemed to be more of, “Well let’s see how much the police find out and then we’ll just admit to that.”

Should a team of cheaters really be a surprise for us?

Our international talents are refined versions of those players who play street cricket. The one skill acquired in street cricket is cheating. Every ground or street I have played in has had some dodgy calls accompanied with lots of fighting and cheating, especially if money is concerned.

Even if our international team really does comprise of cheats, two special mentions are in order. Firstly, a shout out to Mohammad Asif; it struck me while watching a slow-motion video of him running with a gangster song playing in the background (one of those news channel parody videos). This guy is actually the cool ‘bad guy’.

To the contrary, young Aamir’s nervous twitches landed him delivering a ridiculously large no-ball, the hardened criminal Asif delivered a perfect, regulation inch-over-the-line no-ball. Really got to hand it to him, the only thing missing was a toothpick in his mouth and a cowboy hat which he would tip as he winked at the camera.

The second (less sarcastic) salute goes to Shahid Afridi. Apparently our spot-fixers hated him because he wanted to play honestly. Putting the word honest next to Afridi does bring memories of the ball-biting incident to mind, but hate him for it as much as you may; at least his heart was in the right place. In my opinion, the person who was cheating for you is better than the person cheating from you.

My question to all the people playing it safe is: what if compelling evidence does not arrive? What course of action should be taken then? What should be done with these players after emotions subside and evidence fails to arrive?

There are some people posting videos on youtube who are convinced that it is all a ploy by the British media to destroy the Pakistani team. They believe that the shadow angles of pictures show that they are fakes, and that the video of Mazhar was made after he was arrested. The flippancy of their arguments is testament to their delusion, but I suspect that it may end up being a common Pakistani argument to the world if compelling evidence does not arrive.

Sachal.Afraz

Sachal Afraz

A graduate from the Lahore University of Management Sciences currently pursuing post-graduate studies at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia.

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

  • Fizzah

    I was intentionally avoiding paying attention to this issue to keep the focus on the flood victims but my brother forced me today to take a look at the photos and ‘the video’ which has created all this s* storm and I was just astonished to see that THIS IS ALL FAKE!!!! You HAVE TO BE JOKING PEOPLE!! Any 5 year old kid can see that the Salman Butt photo with the fixer and the so called journalist is a REALLY BAD PASTED PHOTO!! IT’S CHILDISH PHOTOSHOPPING!

    And the VIDEO!!!Any idiot can make such a video in 5 minutes in their drawing room and release it to the media to malign ANY ONE!Please explain:

    1) Why isn’t the guy writing down the details on the paper shown on camera?
    2) Who is making the movie? And why is the guy in front of the camera letting his film made? Why is he arranging the money like that on the table?
    3)Isn’t it MORE LIKELY that this video was made very conveniently AFTER the match?

    What is wrong with our people? One trashy tabloid which is already facing several legal suits from lots of celebs for false stories, makes an allegation and our media and our own people join in maligning,brutally criticising and almost acting like the Sialkot murderers towards our team! PLEASE GROW UP! Is this the first time that the British media has come after us? What happened to questioning the authenticity of these allegations? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to standing up for ourselves? Oh we’ve never done that,have we?Recommend

  • QB

    Interesting take. This whole thing has a bad smell to it. No one has categorically denied the allegations. Sulman butt was acting as some one caught red handed. And the video atleast has raised credible questions. Why did Wahab Riaz take that jacket from the bookie?

    If truth is found than strict action is warranted. It is high time we move on from “personalities” and develop the institutions. Pakistan cricket is not because of Mohammed Amir, but Mohammed Amir is definitely because of Pakistan. They should all find that out.Recommend

  • Enam

    My god!! Pakistanis and their sissy habit of pretending to be the “victim of conspiracies”. Well, wait and watch. This time around they (west-aussie-ensglish-jew-israeli-german-indian-american-russian-EVERBODY) have grabbed you by the throat for nothing less a lifetime ban for you phony heroes.
    Like people, like players. GREEDY.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

    And as for your second question that wasnt addressed: obviously MM doesnt know he’s being filmed, ever heard of a covert operation? It’s a hidden camera.Recommend

  • http://www.lawidiot.blogspot.com Leena

    Very well written article, and tastefully entertaining. Especially the part about Shahid Afridi! More respect for him! Recommend

  • Fouad Shaid

    Well I agree with fizza…about the jacket i would just like to say notice the colour of his t shirt(mazhar majid’s) in the car and also when he is giving it to wahab…do u see the difference??The picture is a total fake…I would like to ask why would salman butt allow a picture to be taken if he is doing something wrong?and abc anybody accused with such serious charges would stammer.Recommend

  • Shan

    I really cant fathom the depth of delusion that some of my countrymen have.

    Can you imagine the English media (yes commercial-tabloidized media tends to be atrocious, but thats besides the point) sitting around the table, rubbing their hands:

    “Lets conspire to put pressure on the team are boys are actually thrashing on the field”

    Good stuff!

    Face the facts. Wake up and take responsibility. Your biggest enemy is your own hypocrisy.Recommend

  • Sachal

    He was their official agent, obviously he has pictures with them. There is no reason for anyone to make fakes. Are you attempting to present the defense that the two never got pictures taken together? This is a defense they themselves would not take.

    The authenticity of the video remains to be seen. interestingly Sarfaraz came back from the Aussie tour and kept saying “they bet they bet”. No one took him seriously until now :PRecommend

  • shoaib hadeed

    i really want to know about that video .. where there is “gangsta” music in the background .. Recommend

  • Ebby

    v nice .. Recommend

  • Ebby

    Fizza nice comments .. v as a nation must learn how to control our ego and trust our Heroes. Let the police complete their investigation and if God forbid they have done something wrong then the nation has all the rights to show their anger.. Recommend

  • Mahvesh

    3 bowlers come along and destroy England in one Test match and they need to ‘plot’ and ‘conspire’ against us, instead of using what they have and we don’t (brains) and thinking, “hey! Give it another month or two, Pakistani cricket always self destructs.” Honestly, how delusional can you all get. It’s one thing to wait for proof, another to shout ‘conspiracy theory!’

    As for Miss Fizza – the international press would rather wait for the match and the no-balls to be bowled than to leak the videos before hand and just end up looking like some morons. Much more convenient and damning evidence, I assure you. Innocent till proven guilty, yes. But you’re being idiotic with the reasons you offer up for that innocence. Photoshopping and post-dated videos being made and different colored shirts – for god’s sake! This is some bad Bollywood drama you’re making out of it!Recommend

  • abc

    The problem with Pakistani people: Never accept our faults, everything is a conspiracy, buss. Hum tou duniya ke pak tareen log hain.Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson

    I think it is better to inform the world that specially in our country “koi musalman aisi harqat nhi kr skta”. Oh dear ones, this time also the third umpire will decide whether out or not out. We can not do anything good on our own. I would suggest something very promosing ” Appoint Mr. Imran Khan as full time Sports Minister for life time”. Though he won’t come down on less than PM Ship but in the interest of the country we must “Beg” him to do so. All types of sports must come under his control with full authority as he enjoyed during his Captaincy. Recommend