Desperate times

Everyone knows the story by now, how could they not? Its been blasted to us from every corner of our input receivers on all forms of media and has spiraled into something resembling a circus pretty quick. A well spoken man receives a large sum of money in a hotel room in England, allegedly to spot fix no balls in the next days innings in the last test match between Pakistan & England and lo and behold the balls are delivered as promised by our bowlers Muhammad Asif & Aamir and when the story is revealed by “News of the World” All hell breaks loose.

Such is the regular chagrin of a Pakistan cricket fan for over 25 years, that we expect the worst, but when it comes we cannot seem to handle it or accept the face being shown in the mirror. However after a couple of days having passed under the “lynch em all” bridge there seems to be a very conspicuous smell coming from the direction of this case and no I do not think this was engineered by our oft blamed neighbors, even if it is somehow in their advantage according to some theorists.

It has been now established and quoted on reputable news sources like BBC Sport that a sum of money ( 4000 pounds )found in Pakistan’s cricket players rooms matches the serial nos of the bank notes given to the alleged fixer. That should clear away any doubts held by any loyalist or knee jerk defender of the Pakistan teams honor for sure. It looks like the face in the mirror is ours but whether we are now being made scape goats by the International media for a bigger problem is the question that lingers in my mind.

First of all reporting about the case in all forms of media abroad have had a small lineage of arsenic underlying the tones from day one. What followed later can only be called selective reporting as the whole team was virtually trussed up and sent to the gallows even before the crime could have been established or verified. Suspension of the three players named does seem like the right step by the ICC but has the ICC done so in the past with other players of other teams when proved guilty? I distinctly remember a Shane warne being let off with a “fine” when he “admitted” to taking money from a bookmaker to report on weather conditions was it?

Reports now tell us that these same players were under the microscope of  the Anti corruption team of the ICC for quite some time. If this was the case was anyone made aware other than the players themselves of what was going on? When Mr Butt was named captain of Pakistan what part did the alleged 5 warnings he had received from ICC’s anti corruption unit come into play for the people deciding on a leader for our team?

Please note when we speak of bias and the ICC denies it and many reputed sportswriters in England pooh pooh it, the past shows us that people have been rather quick on the trigger when it comes to our country and team.  Remember oval gate? We were all called cheats back then but the long run saw the umpire’s forced retirement not of the players involved. That everyone just seems to turn a blind eye to the root of these issues and concentrates on  hanging whoever is caught with the packet at the end cannot be all coincidence or well intentioned.

Its not about the background let me assure you, from a village or a town every Pakistan boy who gets this far knows what is right and what is wrong. We ain’t exactly the tom sawyers people are projecting us as out there. However calling for suspension from test status of our team when it has not even been considered for other test playing nations when their own super stars were caught with their hand in the cookie jar is a bit laughable.

What is not laughable however is the point that sometimes these players are motivated by a lot more than greed when it comes to “fixing” This has been proven in Waseem Akrams case in the past as well when his family was threatened. Could this have been at play when the said transaction took place?

In either case, what needs to be done now is for the ICC to scrutinize each and every individual who is coming forth with the sudden urge to tell the world how they also were approached by bookies. This cancer is still rooted deep and in my opinion a shadowy parallel world for those in the spotlight in cricket. It is very much in action for all teams playing. We will need to make sure it is bombarded and cut off for ever or else cricket will die a very sad and painful death.

That and we should stop vilifying our entire team because certain individuals in it were playing for more than the honor of representing Pakistan out there. Team Pakistan will play on and recover from this, like we have from so many setbacks in our past. Aamir or no Aamir we do not have a lack of talent in the domestic setup and should not let this violation of the fans or the public trust go unchecked.

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As published in “The Friday times” on 24/9/2010

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