Match-fixing September 10, 2010

The startling amnesia of Giles Clarke

A few thoughts and observations on Pakistan’s much elongated Hour of Need
91

Hello Confectionery Stallers. I have been tied up for the last few weeks attempting to entertain the masses at the Edinburgh Fringe festival (if you will excuse a numerically inappropriate use of the word “masses”), and latterly with unexpected family commitments, and to be honest I could not have chosen a better time in which to be almost fully distracted from cricket.

Cricket has itself been fully distracted from cricket, buffeted about in an inevitable typhoon of outrage and sanctimony, as the latest unfolding gambling farrago batters the sport like a cheap sausage, all amidst the queasily sinking suspicion that this particular Titanic has not quite finished ramming into what may be a distressingly large iceberg.

Here are the official Confectionery Stall thoughts on the most cricketingly depressing story of recent years.

1. It was slightly odd to see ECB chairman Giles Clarke being so affronted by Mohammad Amir that he simply could not bring himself to look at the bowler when presenting him with the Man Of The Series Award after the Lord’s Test-match-cum-debacle. Whilst all cricket fans are, without doubt, disgusted by the alleged spot-fixing, and saddened that it should have involved the most exciting young player in the game, it should be remembered that Clarke himself has not proved immune to the allure of taking easy money from dubious sources.

Just two years ago Clarke and the ECB prostituted the England cricket team to Texan billionaire and current resident of the Federal Detention Centre, Houston, USA, Allen Stanford, who pitched up at Lord’s in a fake helicopter with 20 fake million dollars in mostly fake dollars bills.

Merely hearing the words “Texan tycoon” and “cricket” in the same sentence should have set alarm bells twanging. The helicopter and Perspex-coated wodge of cash should have made them go off like a hungry-monkey enclosure at a slightly delayed feeding time. But the ECB willingly bent over and pimped out the national cricket team to such an extent that they might as well have made them all go out to bat up in fishnet stockings and push-up bras, whilst a threatening-looking gangster stood by the scorebox taking 90% of their runs away and counting them for himself.

Months later, after one toe-curlingly awkward and flirtatious cricket match, Stanford was accused by no less an authority than the United States Securities and Exchange Commission of one of the biggest frauds in human history, and the ECB emerged from the whole humiliating episode with egg not just on its face but stuck in its hair, caked all over its once-woolly jumper, and dribbling apologetically down its cash-stained trousers, a walking omelette of a sporting organisation.

For Clarke, the man who sold his nation’s cricket team to be a tycoon’s plaything, to refuse to shake hands with someone accused of accepting cash from someone dodgy for doing something he patently should not be doing, perhaps shows the lack of self-awareness required to be a successful businessman and sports administrator.

Clarke is not alone. One cursory glance at the ICC international schedule reveals that organisation’s pathological inability to say “No, thanks” to money, its steadfast refusal to protect the soul of cricket from commercial interference.

None of this is intended to justify the alleged actions of the accused players, but to highlight the fact that few at the highest level in cricket have shown much ability, willingness or effort to spurn the attractions of money and place the integrity and welfare of the game ahead of financial acquisitiveness.

2. Nevertheless Clarke deserves credit for calling for a proper, communal effort to aid Pakistani cricket in its seemingly endless Hour Of Need, an hour which has now stretched some way beyond the standard 60 minutes, and which, for various reasons, shows no signs of being interested in taking a breather and being at least temporarily replaced with an Hour Of Stability, or a Few Minutes Of Hope, or even a Quick Tea-And-Biscuit Break of Normality.

As they have proved again this summer, Pakistan’s cricket team is generally the most fascinating, irritating, compelling and frustrating in world cricket. Their bowlers, in particular Amir and Mohammad Asif, have regularly made budget porcelain mugs of both England and Australia’s batting line-ups, whilst their batsmen have made a strong, prolonged and resolutely determined statistical case for being the most inept to have visited England in more than 50 years.

Cricket needs Pakistan, and whilst it is true that Pakistan cricket has not traditionally been the most reliable friend to itself, the world of cricket must set aside its various vested interests and strive to ensure that Pakistan cricket remains alive in the international arena.

3. Human history shows that, in general:

  • many humans throughout history have found easy money far more attractive than hard money (for examples, see, for example, the recent history and current state of the global economy, the MPs’ expenses scandal in Britain, the existence of the Cayman Islands, the IPL);
  • financial inequality leads to wrongdoing (it must be much easier to spurn the offer of a few thousand pounds if you are already earning a few hundred thousand);
  • where gambling is legal, legal gambling thrives; where gambling is illegal, illegal gambling thrives; where illegal gambling thrives, people become aggressively naughty; people like gambling (witness the popularity of religion – what greater punt can there be in life than betting for or against an afterlife?);
  • teenagers thrust rapidly into the public spotlight frequently balls things up; and
  • when a British tabloid newspaper starts taking the moral high ground, you know things have gone very, very badly wrong.

4. The ICC has, evidently, not adequately decapitated the particularly snakey Medusa of cricket corruption. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, has, however, stated unequivocally: “We will not tolerate corruption in this great game.”

It is reassuring to know that there is at least one thing in the universe that the ICC will not tolerate. Amongst the things it will tolerate are:

  • the potentially terminal decline of cricket in some once-great Test playing nations;
  • the premature elevation to Test status of nations due to political and commercial vested interests;
  • large amounts of money from TV companies in return for artificially and soullessly elongating one-day tournaments;
  • shamelessly pricing local cricket fans out of attending said tournaments, leading to embarrassingly sparse attendance at showpiece events;
  • international schedules, pitches and regulations designed to break bowlers;
  • infantilically draconian restrictions on what paying spectators are allowed to wear or consume inside cricket grounds;
  • being held to ransom by various other organisations with three- or four-letter acronyms;
  • needlessly snoozy over-rates;
  • umpires leading players off for bad light whenever they get a bit peckish;
  • idiotic implementation of an untested and patently-unready TV umpiring system;
  • Daryl Harper being allowed control of said system;
  • sundry other bloopers.

Still, it is nice to know that the ICC will draw the line somewhere. And that line is at corruption (of the on-the-field variety, at least).

5. Amir, if found guilty, deserves another chance. Who knows what pressures he was under and from whom? If he was being urged by some or all of his captain, team-mates, his agent, gambling gangsters, the Pope, and/or the FBI to bowl no-balls and he caved in to those demands, with minimal impact on the game, whilst simultaneously obliterating England’s batting in one of the finest displays of bowling seen at Lord’s in years, is that surprising? His brilliance with the ball and determination with the bat were not indicative of a man unconcerned by the performance of his team.

If and when the full story emerges, it may be that Amir is seen to be a naive pawn in a game beyond his control. It may emerge that he was a fully willing participant. Either way he deserves both an appropriate period of punishment and a second opportunity. And it will help, if and when he is afforded that second chance, if the PCB does more to prevent the tentacles of temptation winding their way into the dressing room. Its tactic of sticking its fingers in its ears and singing 1980s rock ballads at the top of its voice does not seem to have worked.

6. Spot-fixing is a curious beast. The fraud of the kind and scale that seems to have taken place at Lord’s has far less influence on the game than, for example, the widening gulf in finance and facilities between different Test-playing nations, batsmen not walking, incompetent umpiring, or poor pitches. As Amir’s performances have shown, it is possible to be fully committed to helping your team win and to break cardinal rules of sporting fairness and honesty at the same time.

If spot-fixing ever migrates into stand-up comedy, I and my fellow comedians will be permanently under the spotlight. Was that joke about the International Monetary Fund simply not funny or did I deliberately flunk the punchline? It would be almost impossible to tell. I have had gigs during my career in which audiences seemed to think I had purposefully tanked every single joke in my set.

7. Until scientists stop piddling around trying to find out why dogs bark at cats, and what happens if you feed nothing but pastrami and gherkin bagels to a laboratory orangutan, and instead focus on developing a cure for people with an unquenchable urge to bet on when no-balls are bowled in cricket matches, these controversies will continue to occur.

Meanwhile, in the cricket, England are playing well in a series of training matches.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shiva subramanian on September 29, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    thought provoking & witty at the same time.

  • nadeem sherwani on September 22, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    Can all of us atleast wait till the seemingly endless investigations against the players are over? If the NOTW video was such an ironclad piece of evidence, why hasn't the Scotland yard able to bring charges against them till now? Great piece though Andy By the way 'England seems to be doing well in training games' eh? Its never good to lose training games.. is it?

  • Amber on September 21, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Oh-kay, well, the part about England playing training matches hurt..! hey, Pakistan *can* be a good side... at times... we've proved that, right? Apart from that, i did like the article. Amir *so* should be given another chance.... he's only eighteen!! and *such* a find! i believe the English would've lost all the ODIs had he been in the side :(

  • Nasser Ali Khan on September 21, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Brilliant article!

    Regarding Aamer: 1. It should be irrelevant how good or not a performer is he. 2. What is most relevant though, is for the public to be informed of the exact circumstances in which he was actually involved. Most probably, it would seem that as an 18-yr old member of the team, he would have been under severe pressure to "toe the line" even if he may himself may not have wanted to do so. For this reason alone, he should be given a second chance, but at the same time to serve a period of punishment severe enough to send the right message to all current and future players. 3. The ICC must install a transparent, clear and a severe code of behaviour for all cricketers worldwide. 4. The media must not be allowed to start rumours without evidence to the public, and to target certain nationalities only. 5. Finally, the ICC must get its house in order and the national bodies should be accountable to it.

  • Ricki Sorrell on September 21, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    It seems England are well on their way to losing a series of training matches against a 'second string' attack.

  • Noor on September 20, 2010, 22:39 GMT

    Mr. Giles please accept my apology for the behavior of my countrymen. Pakistan's cricket has been represented by fools and greedy people and unfortunately if any decent Pakistani tell them that what they are doing is wrong they will not accept and try to blame the whole world. I am ashamed of my fellow Pakistani I try to write on "Pak Spin" but my post that criticizing the wrongs doesn't get published, unfortunately there are very few people who think that what the Pakistani are doing is wrong instead of building bridges they want to destroy relationship.

  • MartinAmber on September 20, 2010, 20:04 GMT

    Brilliant. If only someone with your perspective on Clarke and the ICC, both loathed for so long by many English cricket fans, had been writing in ANY newspaper these last few weeks. Even the best of them just wrote about this subject with no shades of grey at all. Any reader would have come away thinking it worse than what happened in Lahore just 18 months ago

  • Taimur Khan on September 20, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    "let he who has not sinned throw the first stone". Let us burn 18 year old prodigy Amir who comes from a mountain village and earns over an entire summer half the money the untalented Ishant Sharma earns from bowling a single ball! Let us burn him without considering what pressure he was under, and by whom. Let us burn him without considering where he comes from, what sort of security Pakistan offers to him and his family if he chose to fight against the tentacles of organized crime! India is home to illegal gambling. Where is ICC's high moral ground w.r.t. India? The malaise has likely infected all of them. I can bet (sic.) the ECB, BCCI, ACB, PCB etc. are all involved up to their ears. Nobody ever strung up the big fish, however. Poor Amir's a low level pawn with little freedom of action...once they ask him to take a dive he takes a dive...period! At the same time, despite his talent, he is expendable and the fat cats arn't..because they can take other fat cats down with them!

  • Salman on September 19, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    What a shame this bunch of looters and their agents have brought again to this country...it is an insult on our nation by these pathetic faces!!!

    The indian controlled ICC is openly playing their dirty game, and every tom-dick and harry's criminal bookie phone call is now a lead into new investigations against our players, who are the best in the world....and the whole parliament and PCB sits and watch this nonsense that is crossing all limits....

    We need to stop this insane plot in which, as our crooked leader Zardari, is his agent Ijaz butt, playing the pivotal role, by showing a pathetic face after every insult that the ICC has put on the face of our country, our players.

    the indian controlled ICC, Ijaz butt and all the bookies involved need to be caught and put on trial in Pakistan....we need to stop this nonsense ....wherever there is indian hands there is a conspricay and corruption and politics, and cricket is dead if indians are allowed their dirty games, like in Afghanistan

  • Kashif Siraj on September 18, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    "Pakistan, the gods of cricket"

    I mean seriously, this team supposedly cheats when they lose and they cheat when they win. There is no other possible explanation for their wins or losses. This makes them undisputable gods of cricket as this implies that no team has the potential, talent and resources enough to enforce a defeat or lose to Pakistan against their will.

    The allegation of Pakistan fixing (spot) the 3rd ODI suggests that they can win from any position against this hapless English team as the english team does not stand a chance against the gods of cricket in a fair competitive match.

    Where is Pakistan's sports Minister? Busy minting money in IPL or CLT20? A very pissed off Pakistani Fan

  • shiva subramanian on September 29, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    thought provoking & witty at the same time.

  • nadeem sherwani on September 22, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    Can all of us atleast wait till the seemingly endless investigations against the players are over? If the NOTW video was such an ironclad piece of evidence, why hasn't the Scotland yard able to bring charges against them till now? Great piece though Andy By the way 'England seems to be doing well in training games' eh? Its never good to lose training games.. is it?

  • Amber on September 21, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Oh-kay, well, the part about England playing training matches hurt..! hey, Pakistan *can* be a good side... at times... we've proved that, right? Apart from that, i did like the article. Amir *so* should be given another chance.... he's only eighteen!! and *such* a find! i believe the English would've lost all the ODIs had he been in the side :(

  • Nasser Ali Khan on September 21, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Brilliant article!

    Regarding Aamer: 1. It should be irrelevant how good or not a performer is he. 2. What is most relevant though, is for the public to be informed of the exact circumstances in which he was actually involved. Most probably, it would seem that as an 18-yr old member of the team, he would have been under severe pressure to "toe the line" even if he may himself may not have wanted to do so. For this reason alone, he should be given a second chance, but at the same time to serve a period of punishment severe enough to send the right message to all current and future players. 3. The ICC must install a transparent, clear and a severe code of behaviour for all cricketers worldwide. 4. The media must not be allowed to start rumours without evidence to the public, and to target certain nationalities only. 5. Finally, the ICC must get its house in order and the national bodies should be accountable to it.

  • Ricki Sorrell on September 21, 2010, 5:55 GMT

    It seems England are well on their way to losing a series of training matches against a 'second string' attack.

  • Noor on September 20, 2010, 22:39 GMT

    Mr. Giles please accept my apology for the behavior of my countrymen. Pakistan's cricket has been represented by fools and greedy people and unfortunately if any decent Pakistani tell them that what they are doing is wrong they will not accept and try to blame the whole world. I am ashamed of my fellow Pakistani I try to write on "Pak Spin" but my post that criticizing the wrongs doesn't get published, unfortunately there are very few people who think that what the Pakistani are doing is wrong instead of building bridges they want to destroy relationship.

  • MartinAmber on September 20, 2010, 20:04 GMT

    Brilliant. If only someone with your perspective on Clarke and the ICC, both loathed for so long by many English cricket fans, had been writing in ANY newspaper these last few weeks. Even the best of them just wrote about this subject with no shades of grey at all. Any reader would have come away thinking it worse than what happened in Lahore just 18 months ago

  • Taimur Khan on September 20, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    "let he who has not sinned throw the first stone". Let us burn 18 year old prodigy Amir who comes from a mountain village and earns over an entire summer half the money the untalented Ishant Sharma earns from bowling a single ball! Let us burn him without considering what pressure he was under, and by whom. Let us burn him without considering where he comes from, what sort of security Pakistan offers to him and his family if he chose to fight against the tentacles of organized crime! India is home to illegal gambling. Where is ICC's high moral ground w.r.t. India? The malaise has likely infected all of them. I can bet (sic.) the ECB, BCCI, ACB, PCB etc. are all involved up to their ears. Nobody ever strung up the big fish, however. Poor Amir's a low level pawn with little freedom of action...once they ask him to take a dive he takes a dive...period! At the same time, despite his talent, he is expendable and the fat cats arn't..because they can take other fat cats down with them!

  • Salman on September 19, 2010, 14:27 GMT

    What a shame this bunch of looters and their agents have brought again to this country...it is an insult on our nation by these pathetic faces!!!

    The indian controlled ICC is openly playing their dirty game, and every tom-dick and harry's criminal bookie phone call is now a lead into new investigations against our players, who are the best in the world....and the whole parliament and PCB sits and watch this nonsense that is crossing all limits....

    We need to stop this insane plot in which, as our crooked leader Zardari, is his agent Ijaz butt, playing the pivotal role, by showing a pathetic face after every insult that the ICC has put on the face of our country, our players.

    the indian controlled ICC, Ijaz butt and all the bookies involved need to be caught and put on trial in Pakistan....we need to stop this nonsense ....wherever there is indian hands there is a conspricay and corruption and politics, and cricket is dead if indians are allowed their dirty games, like in Afghanistan

  • Kashif Siraj on September 18, 2010, 20:05 GMT

    "Pakistan, the gods of cricket"

    I mean seriously, this team supposedly cheats when they lose and they cheat when they win. There is no other possible explanation for their wins or losses. This makes them undisputable gods of cricket as this implies that no team has the potential, talent and resources enough to enforce a defeat or lose to Pakistan against their will.

    The allegation of Pakistan fixing (spot) the 3rd ODI suggests that they can win from any position against this hapless English team as the english team does not stand a chance against the gods of cricket in a fair competitive match.

    Where is Pakistan's sports Minister? Busy minting money in IPL or CLT20? A very pissed off Pakistani Fan

  • Asad Rehman on September 16, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    Interesting...all comments generated from Indian names call for Amer being banned for life....the Brit commenter's call for giving him a second chance... After all this, Amer will never be the bowler he is...the incident is going to haunt him forever.

  • Nadeem Kureshi on September 15, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    The link to this article doesnot seem to work when shared on facebook!

  • Minhas on September 15, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    Well said about Pakistani team"The most fascinating, irritating, compelling and frustrating in world cricket." Amir should get an other chance even found guilty but after paying price. The double standard of ECB chairman, well said. In all Andy you Rock.

  • Fazal choudary on September 15, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Great article. No. Bias. In it

  • Fazal choudary on September 15, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Great article. No. Bias. In it

  • Nadeem Kureshi on September 15, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Andy is by far the wittiest English writer of recent times. Great read.

  • Noman Yousuf on September 15, 2010, 7:48 GMT

    What an excellent article; I always have been your fan Andy, but this is probably your best ever post. You've spoken with so much insight and have combined a wonderful thought process with beautiful articulation, hats off to you. P.s. Kindly forward the link to Mr. Ian Chappell

  • Ahmad Saleem on September 14, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    Andy, You are great. This is wonderfully written and the best line of the whole article was the finishing line."Meanwhile, in the cricket, England are playing well in a series of training matches." I always enjoy your articles. Keep them coming regularly.

  • Haseeb on September 14, 2010, 16:39 GMT

    My favorite part was when you related religion and the afterlife to betting. Its as if Andy's asking, what would cricket be without a little bit of controversy?

  • muzi on September 14, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    do you have an "official" fan club... like the fan club of Morris?

  • taimoor sultan on September 14, 2010, 12:32 GMT

    ANdy you are losing it!

  • Imran on September 14, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Andy,you are the best.Cricket is blessed to have a fan like you.

  • Noman Aziz on September 13, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    Very well written article Andy! While others are simply playing safe by accusing the players, you have come out and spoken the truth. It made my day. Respect.

  • Ashish Saxena on September 12, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Agree with everything except point #5, if Amir is Guilty then he should never bowl again. I understand that a new comer is always under pressure from Captain and other forces to pay to their heeds but thats not an excuse.. may be a great talent in wrong team at wrong time..but no one could have done anything if he had not bowled the no Ball and taken 6 wickets in the innings.. and won Mon of series award.. his place was certain in the side.. unless if was afraid for his life.. which needs to be proved beyond doubt.. its not easy to threaten international cricketer..

  • Chris Sobolowski on September 12, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    @ Nik - I read Andy's article, and I am not Asian. I am in fact the president, king and Grand Wazir of the Bennington County Cricket Club, the latest and quite possibly greatest cricket club in the state of Vermont (one of the United States, the second most famous United anything after that football team from Manchester). I pride myself on bringing the World's Greatest Game, (cricket, for those of you still on the United gag) to one of the smaller, paler and completely un-Asian states, and have built up the club in its two years of existence from a group of a dozen Americans flailing wildly with the flat bat to a rather competitive group of over 30 cricketers who are, in a manner which hasn't escaped Alanis Morissette, mostly Asian.

    Its a hard slog bringing The Game to America, but as we say, "Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn." What that has to do with Pakistani spot fixing, I'm not quite sure. But Sports + Money + Humans = trouble, wherever you're from.

    Nice article Andy.

  • Free Shrink on September 12, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    Very funny and sad article showing Hypocrisy of ECB chair. All Pundits were wrong Pak Team proved themselves to be most predictable Team in World ask any good bookie. Aamir is steps ahead of any Bowler in the world Look even his No ball was also 2 steps ahead than any bowler. I think Buffoon BUTTS(both Salman and AIjaz) should be Droned while give Kid and We cricket lovers deserve a chance watch an eceptional bowler again

  • Mahmood on September 12, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    I am surprissed that nobody is addressing the root cause of corruption in cricket, i.e. illegal gambling in india. almost every scandal fron cronje to amir was setup by gambling setup in India. what has ICC done to address this issue? endorsed IPL, the front for illegal gambling and match fixing.

  • Imran Salat on September 12, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    awsome artice.

  • SrinR on September 12, 2010, 0:06 GMT

    "made them all go out to bat up in fishnet stockings and push-up bras, whilst a threatening-looking gangster stood by the scorebox taking 90% of their runs away and counting them for himself."

    had me lolling.

    @Sudhin, @ Apratim Cayman Islands is a tax haven. Rich people, Americans mostly, like to park their ill-begotten riches there to escape paying tax. Companies register themselves there for same reason. Nothing to do with Colombus.

  • Mudassar Rana on September 11, 2010, 23:39 GMT

    The players are guilty of nothing more than foolishness and the need to be associated with glamour. No truly internationally renowned player would care that much for sitting in someone else's aston martin or wearing another persons jacket!

    The NOTW showed it had little evidence when it tried to scam yasir hameed and then bribe and later blackmail him into giving a statement. Had the evidence been as clear cut as the press made out this case would have been sewn up within days and not weeks.

    The pcb is a very unprofesional board and that it allowed players to extend their stay after the tour and then to be stung like this in the case of hameed shows that it is not only the board but also the players who do not know how to deal with situations. Like wasim akram said the pcb see no problem in players visiting peoples houses for dinner! I fear that after the daryl hair fiasco it took pakistan cricket 4 years to recover i think it will take much longer this time round.

  • Rashid on September 11, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    You are loved by regular cricket fans who want cricket to survive and not part of history.Please post schedule of yours stand up comedy show in case you come to visit Hollywood.

  • Blithe on September 11, 2010, 22:00 GMT

    I am a Pakistani.

    Good article but pains and penalties must be enforced against the trio and perhaps Riax Wahab. There is a 'treason' case waiting to be heard agaisnt them in Pakistan.

    As far as Yasir Hamed goes, he was clearly drunk and repeating what was already published.

  • krishna on September 11, 2010, 17:09 GMT

    Well good to see Andy's back - however this is not even a patch on earlier blogs or even around the periphery of the much awaited World Cricket Podcast . Where art thou ?

  • Rashid on September 11, 2010, 16:43 GMT

    You are loved by regular cricket fans who want cricket to survive and not part of history.Please post schedule of yours stand up comedy show in case you come to visit Hollywood.

  • Abdul Razzaq Ali on September 11, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    Andy Zaltzman, you are a class act...... Like Robert Newman you are a legend. Your observation of the face pulling by Giles Clarke and the double standard misdemeanor with Allen Stanford was breathtaking. I thank you for the article that puts in perspective the real take on the spot betting. Yes if found guilty they should be punished but there should be an element of way out.

  • Wahab on September 11, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    "Pakistan’s cricket team is generally the most fascinating, irritating, compelling and frustrating in world cricket." I feel sorry for the team, the statement is so true in it self.

  • atiqhong kong on September 11, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    thankyou very much.you are true person

  • Tahir on September 11, 2010, 13:21 GMT

    excellent article

  • Hassaan on September 11, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    gr8 article...if u neglect the reading on the vapid-o-meter for an instant...:P

    but the things stated in the article are all true and worth-knowing...especially the points about M. Aemir, Giles and the ICC...

  • Brigadier M.I.Mahmood SJ FF on September 11, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    Dear Andy, I am a South Asian but was nurtured in the cradle of Western civilization (father, Oxford & the Middle Temple, brother, Cambridge & self, Ft. Benning USA & the Sorbonne & L'Alliance Francaise, Paris) there is much in English civilisation that I admire and try to follow. Among my heros are Dr. Johnson, Burke, Garrick, even Boswell, the Bard, Blake, Earl Russell, Gen Messervy & Lt Gen AJ Wilson -- whon I personally knew --, Paul Schofield etc -- the list goes on !

    However, Giles Clarke, seems to have derived his inspiration from Clive, Hastings, Dyer & some other "empire-builders" who, seen in the light of the modern era, should best be cast into "the dust-heap" of history. If i happen to be at Lords and am introduced to him, my hands will be firmly in my pockets !!

  • Husham on September 11, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    Andy if world cricket is colourless with out Pakistan cricionfo is colorless without you...keep on writing mate...Ur article is a true feeling of all the cricket lovers across the glob...

  • Husham on September 11, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    Andy if world cricket is colourless with out Pakistan cricionfo is colorless without you...keep on writing mate...Ur article is a true feeling of all the cricket lovers across the glob...

  • Hardik on September 11, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    I think Cricket is unstoppably marching ahead towards Doom. 5 years from now with the authentic greats like SRT, Dravid, Ponting, etc. hang up their boots.., 'Cricket' will loose a lot of viewership. Its been long since cricket is being controlled by the broadcasters and money. This fixing scam, while being sad, its more sad to not being able to see a bowler moving to his run-up, to see the size of screen suddenly reducing to display another ad, to see flat-tracks for more 'cricketainment', to 'not see' a bowler steaming in for the first ball of the over... The list is endless... If there is anything remaining in cricket, its few great cricketers and after them its MONEY all the way...

  • asis rout on September 11, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    Andy you are amazing.Hope you take to TV commentary live matches sometime as you will bring the house down with your humour.

  • Sami Saayer on September 11, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    it saddens to read the list of things ICC will tolerate.

  • YorkshirePudding on September 11, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    @Dr Taufique, you need to learn what sub judice means, and at the moment the case against the players is not Sub judice as it has not gone to trial, and as for your assertation that in the US it would be thrown out, that is not the case defense lawyers are more than adept at manipulating the media before, during and after a trial.

    Back to the article, a very good satirical look at the events post Lords.

  • Shamaun on September 11, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    smart, funny, aggressive...all in all a brilliant summary of the going ons in the cricketing world today. Andy you kept us waiting for your next post and I must say the wait was definitely worth it!

  • tonyp on September 11, 2010, 3:01 GMT

    There are two sides to the Amir question. Yes, outstanding talent, great bowling, plenty of fight. Be a great shame to lose it. On the other hand if he gets off with a wrist-slap what disincentive doe that provide for the next prodigiously talented teen who finds themselves in temptation's path?

  • Deepak on September 11, 2010, 2:36 GMT

    I still am unable to get what Andy really meant. Okay ICC hasnt been fully efficient.Many boards arent in a position of moral high ground.Does that mean ICC should not have taken any action against this spot fixing issue.Why are u criticizing ICC for taking action.

  • Harsh on September 11, 2010, 1:07 GMT

    "(witness the popularity of religion – what greater punt can there be in life than betting for or against an afterlife?)"

    haha enough said.

  • Munkeymomo on September 11, 2010, 1:02 GMT

    As a scientist I can state we do more than find out why dogs bark at cats, but I will for sure look into getting your proposed research done. Loved the article.

  • Imran on September 10, 2010, 23:04 GMT

    Amazing article. Finally someone spoke about the nonsense of ECB and ICC. What I dont understand is that if those players have not been found guilty yet , why are the suspened? A stupid clause in ICC bible?

  • Zul on September 10, 2010, 22:44 GMT

    BEST ARTICLE I have read since a long long time. Thank Mr.Zaltman.

  • bilal on September 10, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    its very sad. great talent.his future was totally like wasim akram.has ruined his career the teenager.

  • Nabil H on September 10, 2010, 18:51 GMT

    One must not ignore the fact that Amir might have been physically threatened if he did not comply.

    A present ex-cricketer who sacrificed his career due to match-fixing of his teammates has stated that it has been going on for the past 20 years and that administrators work hand in hand with players from countries around the world.

    All the ICC ask is that do not get caught match fixing but by all means go ahead.

    One must investigate this possibility as it makes alot of sense. The ICC has known about this for decades but has not done anything. I WONDER why.

    Thank God this scandal happened. Because of this we have now found out the extent of match fixing. Players and administrators hand in hand fooling us the public.

    Why watch it anymore?

    Any thoughts on this Mr Zaltzman. I am very interested in what you think of this.

  • Mastankhan on September 10, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    Icc knew that it had done nothing to stop betting, match fixing, holding extensive training sessions with the players to show them what to look for and what the consequences would be for match fixing, holding sessions with the team managers before the start of the series to tell them what to look for and how to manage.

    But---seemingly---the Icc has done nothing of that kind---and in order to hide their incompetence and callous behaviour towards the players---they have shifted all the blame on the players.

    All these intense comments by Haroon Lorgat of making an example out of the players are only to cover up for his blunders for not doing his job in the first place. Now---any CEO who has faulted, he will have to put the blame on others.

    It does roll down hill now doesn't it.

  • Rambo on September 10, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    Really the best line was the last one, "Meanwhile, in the cricket, England are playing well in a series of training matches."

    Really good mix of humour and factoids Mr. Zaltzman!

  • SA on September 10, 2010, 16:30 GMT

    @Ahmed: It is all fine and dandy to point out holier than thou attitudes of others but you seem to forget the seriousness of the matter here. In Pakistan, we have cruel sharia laws which provide no protection for the accused and non-muslims are in prison for allegedly defiling the Koran etc. with no evidence. This hypocrisy is worse in many ways. Why is it that Ijaz & Co want a modern legal system whenever convenient? Criminal case aside, the ICC may still have proof for a major cricket code violation, which still allows the punished another chance at something else other than cricket. No human system is perfect but I would rather have this modern system with all its flaws. Having said all that, I still think punishment should fit the offense, with mitigating factors taken into account.

  • Tudubom on September 10, 2010, 16:17 GMT

    Hilarious, sad and true.

  • bharat ranjan on September 10, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    people like gambling (witness the popularity of religion – what greater punt can there be in life than betting for or against an afterlife?)

    ->Andy, this is the best comment I have seen by far in any article I have read in the last 5 years.

  • sitaram reddi on September 10, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Amir was probably making $100 a YEAR (not just him but his whole family) about a year ago. He gets picked for pakistan and is awarded a contract worth $25,000 a YEAR. Then along comes a bookie/agent offering him in excess of $100,000 to bowl no balls.

    Amir is also probably acutely aware that he could easily be relegated to making a $100 per year for the rest of his life if the Pakistan selectors decide so.

    In the face of this he cashes in. Now we have some very sanctimonious prigs (current cricketers, administrators, sportswriters, pundits who are all assured of making a whole lot more than $100 a year) passing judgement. Please imagine yourself walking in this youngsters shoes before you pass judgement!!!!!

  • Shri on September 10, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    I have been a regular reader of cricinfo articles for a few years now, but never ever posted a comment. With this wonderful article, I had not choice but to make this my first comment. I do not ever recollect having read an article that is so very appropriate. Excellent, I dont have to say more. I wonder now if I should be more upset with the authorities including ICC, PCB, ECB, BCCI et all than the spot fixing scandal. Commercialisation is the root cause of this evil. No point in blaming a few gamblers and players who get influenzed.

  • Dr M K Aslam on September 10, 2010, 14:02 GMT

    The best unbiased article so far during the current saga of alleged spot fixing and cricket.

  • Apratim on September 10, 2010, 13:51 GMT

    @Sudhin Cayman Island was discovered by Columbus, who set sail to find an alternative business route to India. You do the math.

  • Shehan Jayawardane on September 10, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    haha, satire & irony with the fine flavor of reality at it's best regarding this sad calamity. to understand your (also Nazzar Huzain's) sympothy towards Amir, one has to be in that dressing room being a novice, to realize the senior junior thing, the amount of preasure being put on to earn captian's favour to be in the side etc. Amir is a potential treat to the world cricket, specially when you look at the way how he squared up the most experienced batsman in the world (i wish he had a better captian to set the field) it's inevitable. in recent past the ICC went on & bent their rules to serve justice to a bowler (of course to some others also) & to make the game competitive & exciting. now it is time for the ICC & the world to save another rare & unmatched talent by handling the matter sensbly, though any sort of corruption in the game never be tolarated.....my 2 cents :)

  • Sam on September 10, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    I am so sad to read the comments saying that Amir should be banned for life. Give the kid a break. He is not cheating, in the sense that he is not breaking the rules of the game, he is not deliberately causing his team to lose the game, he is not even really doing any harm to anyone other than people who are betting on no-balls falling at other times (who shouldnt be betting on such ridiculous things anyway) or anyone who has an aversion to 30 second delays in the game (which is all a no-ball really is anyway).

    Also when you're offered money by dodgy bookies, the choice is often: take a handsome bit of cash and bowl a couple of no-balls when we say so, or don't take any money, dont bowl the no-balls and have my thugs cut your fingers/ears/nose/feet off.

    What would you do?

  • Pochard on September 10, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    Dr. Taufique... thank you. The players have all been unfairly pre-judged by the media. They have not yet been found guilty of anything, but what chance do they have now? Even if they are not criminally charged, as appears a distinct possibility, they will be tainted forever. This article by Mr Zaltzman, while it makes many valid points about cricket administrators, etc (esp Giles Clarke), is as guilty as the rest in its prejudice. On the other hand, the source for this scandal is the News of the World, so of course it must be true mustn't it?

  • TD_160 on September 10, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    This article seemed different from previous editions of the 'Confectionery Stall'. It seems like a cross between an opinion piece comedy. I thought it was very good.

  • CricketPissek on September 10, 2010, 11:58 GMT

    well done on taking this issue seriously but also maintaining your humour and style :) i agree with pretty much all your points. still not sure how to treat amir's case though. Higgin's case in snooker match fixing (where he 'agreed' to throw a game, but wasn't proven to do so and thus, being ruled innocent) could be used as a guideline i suppose. @Sudhin - the cayman islands are infamous for being used solely to keep money in the banks (being a tax haven). there's a lot of 'don't ask, don't tell' going on about the money in there and their origins

  • Nik on September 10, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    It seems your column is read by Asians only...

  • Dr. Taufique Ahmed on September 10, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    Your comments are very appropriate in highlighting the hollowness of the sanctimonious, holier-than- thou attitude displayed by some cricket officials, administrators, journalists and cricketers in this sorry saga. What these people should realise that the matter is still under investigation and in a way sub-judice and their remarks and actions are totally inappropriate. In countries like USA, the lawyers representing these players will justifiably call for the case to be thrown out as public opinon has been hopelessly prejudiced by these people . By the way, the video tape on Hameed , from what I am reading in papers ,is suspect. Also the reported text message from the NOTW reporter to Hameed appears to be nothing but coercion and this fellow along with his bosses should be charged with a criminal offence. Also, the reported redirection of his mobile phone number to the metropolitan police raises some serious questions about the involvement of British police in the matter.

  • Andrew F on September 10, 2010, 10:45 GMT

    Money, the root of all evil. And at the same time, the most satisfying reward (although, in the words of Eric Morecambe, retention of the little urn this winter is almost it's own reward).

    Whilst this gambling culture exists so predominantly in the subcontinent and Far East we will never really be able to know the extent of the problem in the world game. For every scandal discovered maybe there are 10 undiscovered. And if the people in these areas trying to root out the bad eggs aren't getting paid enough, maybe some of the money will find it's way them itself. The predator becomes the prey. or should that be the other way round? Who knows.

    And what of the poor fellow on a promise of £20k to get a duck, only to end up nicking one through the slips for four?

  • Sandy Singh on September 10, 2010, 10:38 GMT

    While I agree with most things in this article - the one thing I cannot get myself to EVER agree with is that 'IF' (and its a big 'if) - 'even if Amir is found guilty - that he should be given a second chance.' How on earth could ANY sport lover (not just cricket) accept this statement? I'm not doubting his brilliance as a bowler but what about cheating? I'm sorry but in sport - you are brilliant OR a cheat - you do not (and should not) have the privilege of being both. And this really is cricket's last stand - should any of this be 'swept under the carpet' - we should call all future tournaments - 'The Ashes'.

  • pradeep on September 10, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    Hello there!what u said about pakistan was partly true,even if god tells me to accept money n bowl a no ball,I won't do that,as I love my cricket,I m ready to pay for my cricket with money with time with my life, N we r having situation abt int'national cricket countries,political crisis, cricket boards,so I feel club cricket is d future of cricket Technology,new formats (experimenting),marketing,money...u can shy away from it,if u want cricket to survive,v must make changes..face it N blend in ! Thanks Pradeep

  • Kunal Talgeri on September 10, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    "PCB's tactic of sticking its fingers in its ears and singing 1980s rock ballads at the top of its voice does not seem to have worked." LOL ... Andy, who writes your scripts? :-P Keep 'em going, and thanks for making a brilliant case for Amir!

  • David on September 10, 2010, 10:10 GMT

    Thank you Andy. Don't go to Edinburgh again. You have been missed.

  • Matee Naqvee on September 10, 2010, 9:40 GMT

    Awesome. I hope your article would help cricket authorities to think what the hell they have been doing and that why they don't take notice of such things happening in the game of cricket.

  • peter on September 10, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    Great piece.. disagree about cricket needing Pakistan. For too long one PCB administration after another has relied and taken advantage of this much used adage to the disadvantage of the game and its credibility. Amir if found guilty of the charges laid before him must be thrown out of the game for life and be made an example of for future generations..

  • Matee Naqvee on September 10, 2010, 9:36 GMT

    Awesome. I hope your article would help cricket authorities to think what the hell they have been doing and that why they don't take notice of such things happening in the game of cricket.

  • Krish on September 10, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    Andy,

    One of your comments "being held to ransom by various other organisations with three- or four-letter acronyms" has been incomplete; it should have read ... organizations with two-three- or ... How can you leave out another organization whose abbreviation is formed out of the first three letters of English alphabet? It is the same organization that looked the other way to its own players betting in favor of the opposition in a so-called epic Ashes contest in the beginning of the 1980's decade, and that which gently slapped their rear and let off two of its famous players towards the end of the 1990's who took money from bookies and provided inside information.

  • Raama on September 10, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    Best article Andy, on the current happenings in cricket. A genius write up it is.

  • Hari.. on September 10, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Andy... one of the best commentaries I have read after this sad and despicable affair of spot fixing has come into light... i still feel the kind of sadness with which i read the name of Amer among the accused... My feelings and emotions are still conflicted to write any sort of meaningful comment... But whatever people say i do agree that the kid should be given another shot for redemption... Sad days indeed..

  • Christoff on September 10, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    Fantastic read Andy, keep it up.

  • Ahmad on September 10, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    Thanks Andy. That was very much needed. I hope cricket authorities, and players, all over read and heed the message. Cheers.

  • Anshuman on September 10, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    the need of hour part was awesome :)

  • Bharathram on September 10, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    I like the list of things "ICC will tolerate".. especially the point "being held to ransom by various other organisations with three- or four-letter acronyms". Hey, Andy, you still haven't gotten an internet connection at Edinburgh? This post didn't have any statistic wonders with which you usually play with...

  • Anwar Khan on September 10, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    Andy, you are a genius.

  • Sudhin on September 10, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Hi Andy, Nice Article. I didn't get the "existence of Cayman's Islands" part though

  • Parth on September 10, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    LOVE IT!!!!! thank you for an entertaining read andy :)

  • Ali A. on September 10, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    I loved your article. It is funny, true and an unbiased perspective of a true cricket lover. I agree with everything you said!

  • Saurab on September 10, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Great article........specially the things said abt ICC's tolerance and Mohammad Amir......really sensible comments put together with great artistry!

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  • Saurab on September 10, 2010, 6:52 GMT

    Great article........specially the things said abt ICC's tolerance and Mohammad Amir......really sensible comments put together with great artistry!

  • Ali A. on September 10, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    I loved your article. It is funny, true and an unbiased perspective of a true cricket lover. I agree with everything you said!

  • Parth on September 10, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    LOVE IT!!!!! thank you for an entertaining read andy :)

  • Sudhin on September 10, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Hi Andy, Nice Article. I didn't get the "existence of Cayman's Islands" part though

  • Anwar Khan on September 10, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    Andy, you are a genius.

  • Bharathram on September 10, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    I like the list of things "ICC will tolerate".. especially the point "being held to ransom by various other organisations with three- or four-letter acronyms". Hey, Andy, you still haven't gotten an internet connection at Edinburgh? This post didn't have any statistic wonders with which you usually play with...

  • Anshuman on September 10, 2010, 7:40 GMT

    the need of hour part was awesome :)

  • Ahmad on September 10, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    Thanks Andy. That was very much needed. I hope cricket authorities, and players, all over read and heed the message. Cheers.

  • Christoff on September 10, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    Fantastic read Andy, keep it up.

  • Hari.. on September 10, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Andy... one of the best commentaries I have read after this sad and despicable affair of spot fixing has come into light... i still feel the kind of sadness with which i read the name of Amer among the accused... My feelings and emotions are still conflicted to write any sort of meaningful comment... But whatever people say i do agree that the kid should be given another shot for redemption... Sad days indeed..