The drugged cricketer June 5, 2008

From McGrath to mug

Mohammad Asif is a passionate cricketer

Mohammad Asif is a passionate cricketer. He demands wickets. He fumes and rages to unsettle his opponents. His attitude combined with exceptional skill at the beginning of his international career quickly established him as the beanpole star of Pakistan's bowling attack. Yet injuries and drugs have just as quickly brought him to his knees. A thrilling prospect has crashed into a bittersweet reality.

The IPL was meant to reinvigorate Asif's career, as well as his bank balance. The theory went that the McGrath of Sheikhupura would learn at the right hand of the McGrath of Dubbo. Yet it seems that any skill and discipline that Asif might have learned on the field was not imitated in his private life.

Asif, of course, would not be the first cricketer to be embarrassed by possession of recreational drugs. Indeed, two of his most illustrious predecessors required the Pakistan Government to extricate them from humiliation in the West Indies. Nor is possession and use of recreational drugs sufficient reason to end an international career, although it certainly demands disciplinary action.

But Asif's case is unique. His scrape with WADA should have taught him something very simple: a cricketer who truly cherished his international cricket career would have avoided all drugs. Remember, his drugs downfall was supposed to be because of wide-eyed innocence--not cheating--and the PCB had an onus to educate its tainted stars.

Now Asif is once again ruined by his own indiscipline. If the Dubai tests come back positive, the McGrath of Sheikhupura will become the Mug of International Cricket.

For Pakistan fans, at least Sohail Tanvir's T20 excellence could not have been better timed: a flicker of joy in the deepening depression of Pakistan cricket.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here