September 21, 2010

An outbreak of excellent cricket

Board presidents chew their own feet, media outlets froth at the mouth, the players produce a cracker of a game
90

Finally, after weeks catching snippets of cricket on highlights programmes, intermittent blasts of radio commentary, morsels of Cricinfo’s text commentaries, and infinitely more news bulletins than would have been ideal, I actually sat down to watch a cricket match, live, on a television. During that accursed cricketless time, I have conclusively proved that work and family commitments can seriously impinge on a man’s fundamental human right to watch more televised cricket than is medically advisable, and that seven weeks without live cricket is more than flesh and blood can stand.

The media outrage has continued. Earlier this week I heard a radio sport commentator who specialises in boxing and athletics bemoaning the fact that, due to the alleged spot-fixing, the action on the international cricket field was no longer believable. He may be right, at least partially, but to hear a boxing and athletics commentator make this complaint was rather like listening to famous flamboyant cooking starlet Heston Blumenthal whinge about overcomplicated recipes, or paint-splattering art wiz Jackson Pollock grumble at a picture not being realistic enough.

The Lord’s game yesterday began under the now-traditional shadow of match-fixing allegations, as England responded to the latest inane witterings of PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt with furious threats of legal action, damnation and teeth-gritting. A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job more promptly and equally effectively.

Butt, a man who has evidently not fully mastered the delicate arts of diplomacy, claims that he merely claimed that he had heard some bookmakers claiming that England threw the Oval game. This claim about claims that may or may not have been claimed in itself raises a number of questions:

1) Why was Butt talking to bookmakers? At this time, of all times, you would have thought he might have made an excuse for not talking to them – dinner with the wife, or polishing his new Kawasaki 750cc motorbike, or translating The Iliad into Australian. Let us cut him some slack – perhaps he was eavesdropping like the ace private detective he has always dreamed of being.

2) Does Butt think every England collapse in history has been prompted by bookmakers? If so, he must imagine that all England cricketers of the mid-80s to late-90s live on enormous yachts and smoke gold-plated cigars.

3) Is Butt trying to start a rumour in the hope that, in accordance with the rules of the modern media, if that rumour is repeated in more than four newspapers, and/or printed in unusually big letters on a front or back page, it becomes a fact?

And 4) Is Butt unaware that attempting to play the “no smoke without fire” card is less convincing when you are obviously holding and operating a smoke machine?

It was, therefore, in the circumstances, a delight to watch an excellent cricket match break out amidst the morass of allegations, counter-allegations, garbage, counter-garbage, assorted bickerings and the general sensation that cricket is not merely going to the dogs but actually arrived at the dogs some time ago, and is now operating undercover as a dog.

Both teams played intermittently well and not well, which is often the recipe for an exciting game, and Pakistan won largely thanks to Abdul Razzaq catablasting 40 from 10 balls in the last two overs of his team’s innings, and Jimmy Anderson failing to do the same for England.

Both teams are potential World Cup winners, if only by virtue of the fact that they might win three games in a row against other teams of roughly equal ability, which is, in essence, what will be required to triumph in Mumbai in April. The final 10 days of the six-week tournament should be thrilling – all of the top eight-ranked teams have displayed potentially fatal flaws, and all possess the capacity to lose at least one of those three matches.

With a longer group phase, it is likely that at least seven of those eight will progress, and a three-game hot streak from a couple of key players, or even a three-game lukewarm-streak of not doing anything idiotic, could be enough to win it, or at least not lose it. Who knows what the format will be next time – probably something at least a bit silly – or whether Australia will have recovered their previous dominance; 2011 offers a golden chance for a team from outside the Big One of 50-over cricket to win the trophy.

The series, and this most bizarre of English cricket summers, reaches an unexpectedly exciting climax at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday. Whatever happens will always be a footnote in a cricket season that will, sadly, not be remembered for cricket. Even if Tim Bresnan rips through the Pakistan batting to take 9 for 13 in a spell of fast bowling unmatched since the halcyon days of Alan Igglesden, even if Mohammad Hafeez follows up his second ODI fifty in seven years and 42 matches with a blazing match-winning 65-ball double-century reminiscent of a young Asif Mujtaba in his non-existent pomp, even if a spaceship lands on the outfield and deposits a fully padded-up WG Grace to smash England to victory with his magic beard, the cricket will always be a footnote.

This is, to everyone apart from inveterate cricket-haters or lifelong lovers of the impact of illegal gambling, a great shame. It has been among the lowest-scoring English summers since 2000, and the fourth-lowest in the last 50 years. After a decade in which bowlers have been increasingly reduced to jelly, this was (even allowing for the landmark ineptitude of Pakistan’s batting) a refreshing change.

Mohammad Amir should have been the unquestioned star of 2010 – 30 wickets in six Tests at 19.80 gave him the biggest haul ever by a left-arm fast bowler in an English Test summer. No teenager had previously taken more than nine wickets in an English season, and of bowlers under the age of 22, Amir’s total was second only to Alf Valentine’s 1950 record of 33 scalps. Cricket is full of stories of unfulfilled promise, careers cut short by injury, politics, war, underachievement, or the misfortune of having been born before cricket was invented (how good at cricket might Shakespeare or Joan of Arc or Jesus have been?). If Amir’s career is ended, or severely curtailed, by his being caught up in a piddling if highly illegal little no-ball scam, it would rank amongst cricket’s stupidest wastes.

I had the unquestionable pleasure of watching the first half of yesterday’s match in the company of the fine, cricketous gentlemen of TestMatchSofa.com, a noble battalion of cricket nuts who seem to have, rightly, decided to devote their lives to watching, commentating on and talking about cricket and related subjects, such as, for example, life and more cricket. Whilst sitting on a sofa. And intermittently complaining about a lack of beer. Heroes. I commend their highly entertaining live commentaries to you.

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

  • Dr Anurag on September 22, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    brilliant as usual, love you Andy.........I'm your fan...forever

  • Owais on September 22, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Usual stuff from the writer. Brilliant. Out of this world.

  • Anonymous on September 22, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    "A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job more promptly and equally effectively."....hahaha...superb!!!

  • Janet on September 22, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    Hilarious! Keep it up Andy! I must urge those making comments that 'take umbridge' at humour to.....lighten up. This is exactly what the situation needs, to take the edge off. Let those 'in admin' attend to the serious part. However, I agree that the 'yachts and cigars' comment reflects what I had been thinking too - what does Mr Butt find so suspicious about an England collapse? Several years ago at least, it was the norm! :) :)

  • Chandrasekar T R on September 22, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    The best humorous article on this sorry affair, though the affair if far from being humorous.

    I think the ICC should send their Anti-corruption Unit to Butt's office or home and interrogate him how did he hear what the bookies were saying, if he did indeed hear it? Afridi's reaction to the Oval investigation 'All this is rubbish' is a far more credible reaction than the stupid outburst from the PCB chairman.

  • Rizwan Takkhar on September 22, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    At the end of the day, what actual cricket fans (people not involved in writing, commentating or cricket-espionage) will remember is that the summer eventually turned out to be not that bad.

    I'm not denying that the turn of events this summer has brought a lot of negativity to the game. But seriously, for people watching the match at the stadium and for millions including me glued to the TV screen, the cricket was frikkin' amazing.

    On a somewhat unrelated note. I miss Inzamam ul Haq.

  • Khalid Hussain on September 22, 2010, 5:26 GMT

    Irrespective of all the blames and conspiracies,Cricket should win which is bigger than players and officials. Despite allegations on each other cricket lovers want to see entertaining cricket from both sides

  • Adichats on September 22, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    I am imagining Mr. Butt on the Kawasaki...:-) lol.

  • Umair Rizvi on September 21, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    Bravo !!! really it was a match to watch!!! specially shoaib akhtar's fiery spell.

  • kaz on September 21, 2010, 18:58 GMT

    The way ICC is handling the whole situation is totally unprofessional and Butt comments were not helpful aswell.

    To be honest i am enjoying the rivalry between Pak and Eng and can't wait to see final game on wednesday.

    Next year we will have new Ashes ( Pak vs Eng) :-)

  • Dr Anurag on September 22, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    brilliant as usual, love you Andy.........I'm your fan...forever

  • Owais on September 22, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    Usual stuff from the writer. Brilliant. Out of this world.

  • Anonymous on September 22, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    "A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job more promptly and equally effectively."....hahaha...superb!!!

  • Janet on September 22, 2010, 8:49 GMT

    Hilarious! Keep it up Andy! I must urge those making comments that 'take umbridge' at humour to.....lighten up. This is exactly what the situation needs, to take the edge off. Let those 'in admin' attend to the serious part. However, I agree that the 'yachts and cigars' comment reflects what I had been thinking too - what does Mr Butt find so suspicious about an England collapse? Several years ago at least, it was the norm! :) :)

  • Chandrasekar T R on September 22, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    The best humorous article on this sorry affair, though the affair if far from being humorous.

    I think the ICC should send their Anti-corruption Unit to Butt's office or home and interrogate him how did he hear what the bookies were saying, if he did indeed hear it? Afridi's reaction to the Oval investigation 'All this is rubbish' is a far more credible reaction than the stupid outburst from the PCB chairman.

  • Rizwan Takkhar on September 22, 2010, 6:49 GMT

    At the end of the day, what actual cricket fans (people not involved in writing, commentating or cricket-espionage) will remember is that the summer eventually turned out to be not that bad.

    I'm not denying that the turn of events this summer has brought a lot of negativity to the game. But seriously, for people watching the match at the stadium and for millions including me glued to the TV screen, the cricket was frikkin' amazing.

    On a somewhat unrelated note. I miss Inzamam ul Haq.

  • Khalid Hussain on September 22, 2010, 5:26 GMT

    Irrespective of all the blames and conspiracies,Cricket should win which is bigger than players and officials. Despite allegations on each other cricket lovers want to see entertaining cricket from both sides

  • Adichats on September 22, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    I am imagining Mr. Butt on the Kawasaki...:-) lol.

  • Umair Rizvi on September 21, 2010, 22:33 GMT

    Bravo !!! really it was a match to watch!!! specially shoaib akhtar's fiery spell.

  • kaz on September 21, 2010, 18:58 GMT

    The way ICC is handling the whole situation is totally unprofessional and Butt comments were not helpful aswell.

    To be honest i am enjoying the rivalry between Pak and Eng and can't wait to see final game on wednesday.

    Next year we will have new Ashes ( Pak vs Eng) :-)

  • umair on September 21, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    Brilliant Andy!! Fell off my chair laughing at your comment about former English cricketers in yachts, as well as the wondrous 65 ball double hundred from the man on a magic streak (Hafeez!!), reminiscent of Mujtaba!!! Brilliant!!

  • sam on September 21, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    hahaha translate the iliad into australian. Classic line!

  • Karthik on September 21, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    spot on, rib crackingly witty and statistically (surprisingly) accurate! Whats up with your hair Andy? Nothings down basically!!

  • ali on September 21, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    great article andy.... you are a true cricket lover

  • Nadeem Kureshi on September 21, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    so true! perhaps, using smoke generating machines in a dull (e.g. Srilanka playing India), predictable (Pakistan playing South Africa) and not-related-to-cricket-in-any-way (e.g. England playing any other team in England) series will make the games interesting; teams might actually start competing!

  • Veera on September 21, 2010, 15:23 GMT

    " A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job" - Fit the bill!

  • MJG on September 21, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    All this is so sad and at the same time funny..... Instead of looking into the core of the issue, the blame game begins.... a part of me tells nothing is going to change and the corruption will continue, and yet there is another part which is hopeful of change..... like the wise say, hope is a waking dream

  • jamie joseph on September 21, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    Andy Saltzman has to be the funniest (and stastically knowledgable)cricket writer in history!A man after my own heart!We have to thank the Pakistanis and especially their foot in mouth PCB chairman Ejaz Bhatt for giving ample fodder for Andy to work his magic on!And I simply loved the caption to the photo accompanying the piece;was that Andy's imagination at work?!The bit about Andy wondering what the chairman of PCB was doing hobnobbing with bookies instead of spending time with wife , polishing mobike etc had me in splits ! Keep your pieces rolling along ANDY!

  • hass on September 21, 2010, 14:47 GMT

    Andy don't you see BUTT did exactly the samething what Uk newspaper did to Pakistan cricket team. It not only took the best from a great cricket team but also took the spirit with them .Do we believe in the stupid tabloid such NEWS of The World? I think you need to know the history of the stupid tabloid . It has lost all his cases till yet. Imagine this would happen with english team visiting PAK . What would had strauss and ECB do after that... I think the only problem here is ICC .No one else to blame

  • Vish on September 21, 2010, 14:37 GMT

    I am quite surprised to know that people (like, in this blog) are still dreaming of a Pakistan victory in the world-cup. Come on! Bookies can make you loose a match, but not make you win a world-cup... Give me a break!

  • Afridi on September 21, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    "translating The Iliad into Australian". LOL... that would have taken more than a life times work for Chapman. And please Andy please, don't talk about Asif Mujhtuba, it hurts.

  • Khalid Naeem on September 21, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Umpiring in this one day series is below par. England is benefitting from so many decisions. Why Andrew Strauss is getting extra life in nearly every match?

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

    Very lightly put effectively put commentary as usual. One thing that got missed and should be part of this saga is how ICC handled their business. This organization has proven to be manhandled by so called professionals who I fear have never encountered a crisis and hence failing to manage one on hand. They have succumbed to the lows of tabloid, reacted one way (even if it is proven to be right) without giving it a fair thought. The ICC actions prompted the on slaught or incorrect way of reacting to it by the PCB which is also an organization not in the hands of professionals. The PCB has been under immense pressure since bomb blast though no fault of theirs as no board in sports could have handled it right. It is not saying that PCB reacted correctly or the way Mr. Butt came out was right but given the accusations and amount of negative press against the Pakistan Team it was something that can happen under duress. ICC is the ultimate body who did not handle it well and all fell later.

  • steve haymen on September 21, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    well... it isnt a good feeling when some body blames you without any proof and it makes me think that the pakistani player and fans would have felt the same when we were doing the blame game with out any proof after... all a man counting money in the video doesnt mean's in any way that the players are guilty that guy was the manager for most of the players and would have known them for ages.... and it wasnt fair at all to ban the players without any proof when they were not even playing you still cant say they are guilty .... i guess ijaz butt played the same game with us and it has affected our players badly ....on and off the field you can see the difference clearly this isnt the same england team which we saw through out the summers....pakistani players are most entertaining in the world ....ammir alone has been outstanding and is great to watch bowl at 90 mph which is brilliant for an 18 years old .if there is any evidence against them it should be made public or stop blaming.

  • khan on September 21, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    What a waste, I want my 5 minutes back :(

  • omer on September 21, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    I don't agree with the comment " This Series sadly, not be remembered for cricket" .The cricket in this series was exceptional.Any game pakistan plays there are many many moments of joy,tension and anger.One cannot allow some newspaper video to distroy cricket .Me and millions other all over the world enjoyed this summer.6 test matches..few of them have nail biting finish..what more you need.50 over games all 4 so far are tense and hardly fought.If bookies bring this type of hard cricket in the ground then they should be legalized.Otherwise watching IndiaVs srilanka or Club level cricket in IPL will definetly ruin the papularity of this game.Who wants to see retired players hitting sixes on a small grounds.

  • Khalid on September 21, 2010, 13:45 GMT

    Well why unsuabstantiated remarks or allegation against Pakistani players fly and against others it is a big deal. In all fairness if a phone conversation happening on the other side of the globe can trigger an ICC investigation it encourages others to make similar accusations against any player or team.

  • Farhan on September 21, 2010, 13:39 GMT

    I have a strong believe that what u hav said is totally right but, that same applies to Pakistan too or not? Everytime they loose why the newspaper comes up with this stupid allegations. Isn't it the fact that u r innocent, until proven guilty? If these guys are guilty ever1 should give their comment after that, not before any decision by the court. thanks

  • Adway on September 21, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    Somebody is getting Angry, Eh?

  • Andrew F on September 21, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    I once briefly played third team cricket with Alan Igglesden's uncle Terry, for Westerham in Kent. When he was umpiring at square leg, we once had to persuade him not to call the opposition 'keeper for having his gloves on or in front of the line of the stumps. Good times.

    Good article again Andy. Lets hope the Pakistan team and management are 12 friends and 1 champion again soon....

  • Ali on September 21, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    As Usual Brilliant And Entertaining Article.

  • Nasser Ali Khan on September 21, 2010, 12:53 GMT

    What a most brilliant article - it made me burst out laughing a number of times. Andy has made comments which, I believe, would be agreed the vast majority of those who have followed the current cricket series. What an insight, what delivery, and with so much fun. How come I never knew about this guy - such a genius (a term I don't use willi nilly)? I am now going to check out this guy.

  • Sam Morton on September 21, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    I feel for you, Mr Author.

  • Fuzail Zubaid Ahmad on September 21, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    I can easily call this piece the funniest, and hence the most brilliant, I have ever read. I also enjoyed his CV at the top right corner and I will recommend all readers to read that too. The ending; "Aged 21, when fielding at deep midwicket, he dropped the same batsman three times in fifteen minutes, and has not been selected by England before or since"; is the best part.

  • Shabashtapash on September 21, 2010, 12:30 GMT

    Andy, this is all fine, but in being sidetracked by the never-ending, meaningless, tack-on England-v-Pakistan ODI series you have missed the real "exciting climax" to the English cricket summer, the concluding week of the County Championship. Shame.

  • wanderer on September 21, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    I find journalists a remarkable breed, you apart Zaltzmann. They'll defend to the death government actions of corruption if they deem it "necessary" or part of "national security". All the while costing them shed loads from tax payer money. Lose a tenner on a cricket match and they'll cry like it's the end of the world and truth and justice itself has been ripped to pieces. The British News Media is a very weird animal. Some people have their priorities mixed up.

  • John Bravo on September 21, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Hi all, Its a war of words, both are talking in sky with no evidence, may be they are getting used without knowing and some one else will sweep the benefit. Good luck.

  • umar on September 21, 2010, 12:04 GMT

    Not well written mate. You need to work on your writing skills

  • Aina on September 21, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    Well said Andy!!! I am not prejudiced and I back England in the Ashes (or have uptil now)and most Pakistan-less matches (unless it suits Pakistan for England to lose), but I love team Pakistan afterall and my unswerving loyalty makes it hard to believe they are that bad. Ijaz Butt is not the worst thing that happened to Pakistan cricket because his successor will be worse as far as the trend goes, however there are few more ridiculous, selfish, senile, amnesic (is that a word???) chairmans of boards. And once he is gone I am sure PCB wont be as non grata as it would be if he were of better calibre. May God grant us good riddance from him, bring back Mohammad Aamer our future Wasim Akram, and make Pak-Eng contests as tension-free as Eng-Aus and Pak-India *grin*

  • yasirkyani on September 21, 2010, 11:44 GMT

    Great article but i want to say some thing when ever Asian team goes to England they always try to defame Asians its not new thing and 2ndly if Pakistani players were guilty they would have been banned immediately but you can see there is no charge as yet on any of the players,Today they blame Pakistani Players one day they would Blame Indian players also so Thing on that side also.

  • Moody on September 21, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    PCB has done what ECB+ICC did to pakistan by tainting pakistan with fixing allegations. british media has been trying to damage pakistani players repu since imran khan. it was not struass, anderson, swan or broad who beated pakistan in test but BIG MOUTH LIARS British media. they undermined pak players psychologically so much that pak lost their focus from cricket. british media+icc is still targetting pakistani players by saying they did fixing in 3rd ODI (which pakistan won comprehensively). thats why pcb had no other option but to say that there was no fixing in 3rd ODI at all or if it was fixed then it would be england who lost match. (because you can do fixings only to lose the game). Now England is playing a bizarre cricket once they feel psychologically down. England players must have realized how innocent pak players felt after false allegations.

  • Farhan on September 21, 2010, 11:42 GMT

    Pakistan brings Shakespearean drama into cricket - it would be too fuddy-duddy without the 'boys'.

  • manjit on September 21, 2010, 11:41 GMT

    Nice one andy ,Great artcle.

  • Kashif Alam Hashmi on September 21, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    Dear Andy: Sorry to say, but this your biased comments against PCB chairman, even i don't like this man but first time he talk correctly , if you think neutrally, then you realised that england media used wrong tectics agaist pakistan team and sorry to say ICC also biased all they doing. No one officially blame without evidence, even pakistan won the game english media blame pakistan in 3rd ODI, if pakistan involve that surely England is involved too to help him out to won the match. In my point of view something wrong with Peterson because he meet Ex. IPL official before test series and ECB warn him for this and they also need to investigate for there performance in last Test Match and whoile english Media silent for this issue, and all english media is trying to isolate Pakistan in Cricket World, but you don't know pakistan nation they bounce back for all this issues.

  • Khadim Ali on September 21, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    Fixing or spot-fixing means cheating with spectators.Pakistani palyers are involved in fixing is just a thoery as it hasnt proved yet.Strauss,english captain was CAUGHT BEHIND in 2nd ODI as he was aware of that but he didnt leave the pitch.IS IT NOT CHEATING WITH SPECTATORS??Why ICC doesnt take action against him as it was proved that he is a cheater.

  • Junaid Iqbal on September 21, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    Agree with the Gentleman, But just wanted to confirm is English playing Gentleman's Cricket. Last time when Pakistan Visited, Daryl Hair came up with some thing unproven and pure Prejudice Behavior, Changed the result of the match thrice. So why it has always been happening in England? a Newspapers bringing news and ICC is working on that. A normal cricketing fan can predict the next 10 overs. Why always England??? Why not Aussies, Why not NZ, SA, India... Do you really feel proud being Called Civilized Nation?

  • M. Naseem on September 21, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    I can understand the pain which some English players have felt after Ejaz Butt made some unsubstantiated allegations against some unnamed players. This is exactly how some Pakistan players felt when their names were maligned in the UK media. When Pakistan team lost matches, it was accused in the media of its involvement in 'match fixing'. And when it won, it was again accused of the same charges.

  • Prithu on September 21, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    HAHAHAHAHA! ...[cricket] is now working undercover as a dog... sheer brilliance.

    This is a quality article.

  • VSD on September 21, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    Excellent writing!! Hilarious! Keep it coming.

  • Abdul Haleem on September 21, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    what butt did was absolutely right and was what the ECB & english media deserved for reckless & biased reporting...biased against tremendous talent never existing in english cricket. Pakistanis cant be bcak footed for long and cornedred tigers when attack then its fiercesome...be carefull english...its a back sweep slap on ur face for torturing the paksitan team and nation thru illogical & baseless claims in co ordination with Indians & their betties. English players r not angels that they cant do such things...by the way cronje was also ancestorily English.

  • Chris Sobolowski on September 21, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Ah, Andy, yet another pleasure. Not the cheating and the counteraccusations, of course; nor the collapsing from an insurmountable 2-0 lead with Pakistan reeling from scandal and bans of their two best bowlers... Your commentaries on the recent troubles plaguing the game are in danger of supplanting the game itself as the number one form of cricket-related entertainment in England, if not the world. Perhaps a future in ball-by-ball commentaries would suit you, as your wit and insight into the human dramedy that has become international cricket would certainly, if not probably, improve the game for the dozens of people who who read them. It would definitely be just as real.

  • Yasir Mughal on September 21, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    A good article but i would really be stretching it too much stating that even in Rose Bowl cricket will be a footnote, no I don't think so. Cricket was played in the best of spirits in all the 4 ODIs, there wasn't any single moment of ill-conduct that you can perhaps connect to the allegations. While this might be a hard truth, but the fact is that the English Media has never been kind to the Pakistan team and this series is no exception. The fact that not even a single allegation has been proved either by the ICC or the Scotland yard speaks something of the mismanagement of the issue. Cancelling the tour or facing off with players is totally absurd unless you bring forth some solid evidence. Not to say that Ijaz Butt's outburst was simply childish and neither the Pakistani player nor the Pakistani people endorse the stupid comments made by the goon.

  • Ali Faheem on September 21, 2010, 10:43 GMT

    The best Article ever in CRICINFO...

    Weldone Andy..

  • Shane R on September 21, 2010, 10:36 GMT

    The ICC is the root of the problem because they believe piece of garbage rags like the sun and notw.

  • bilal on September 21, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    Zaltzman, your article was well written but i disagree on some points you made. Its not a prophecy as most of these pundets have us believed that Pakistani cricketers are match fixers and all others hangout with Arch angels.

    So, its OK to say whatever you want and then work on proofs later against Pak players but England Players are beyond any of that.

    I commend Butt to shake up lots of arrogant heads to show them how it feels. I LMAO watching strauss's column about how they didnt play well cause of the tussel. NOPE! its caught on tape! they were KILLED yesterday by sheer talent of Pakistani players. Its NOT "Team Pakistan" & other empty slogans. Pak Team has always been riding on talents, who cares if you people believe it or not.

    Pakistani players arent the Best but many are very talented and will beat anybody in any ground and they dont make hi claims like England and Australia.

    so 3 words "Grow a pair" and for once be fair. Nobody is guilty untill proven!

  • H Syed on September 21, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Only impartaial and thourough investigations can decide if all the alleged irregularities are true or not. ( ICC seems to be losing its impartiality by ignoring its own procedure whilst displaying its knee jerk reactions) However I must think aloud to question why is it that every time Pakistan Team is visiting England, the local tabloids are alowed to sabotage the cricketing environment by creating one crisis or another under different pretexts each time? Furthermore why the so called free press dont dare to expose the Indian connections of betting mafia with the same zeal that they only reserve for Pakistan?

  • DanPloy on September 21, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    I feel Jesus would have been like Michael Bevan; a good man to have at the death. And he could have made his own bats.

  • Nasr Saeed on September 21, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Brilliant!

  • Salman Mahmood on September 21, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    Even though I do not support Ijaz Butt's statements, I do believe that his remarks were purely out of frustration. He was frustrated about how Pakistani team feels when they are accused with baseless accusations. He wanted ECB and English Media to realize what it feels like to be accused like this. It is unbelievable how Haroon Logat lashed on Pakistan after he received baseless reports from SUN newspaper about spot fixing in 3rd ODI. If ICC chairman is acting like this with no evidence then that does cause PCB to act this way. I agree Ijaz was out of line. However, you have to understand how mean the English media has been for cheap publicity. Also, how biased ICC is under Haroon Logat. If Scottland Yard can not prove anything then everyone should just shut up and let teams play. These are baseless allegations by English media to sell their newspapers.

  • Rupayan on September 21, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    Quite funny Andy....and if the ICC really wants to clean up cricket, they need to ban live coverage of cricket for a year..After all until the 80's cricket was played and watched in the stadiums...a true cricket fan will still go and watch the game in a stadium. Sure there will be a massive loss in revenue but if the powers that be really care about this gentleman's games as they profess to, then let them do something revolutionary like banning live coverage. Of course this doesnt mean that the fixing will stop but lets just doing something to keep the game only on the sports page and not the front, back, business, glamour and also the sports page.

  • Vaseem Siddiqi on September 21, 2010, 10:05 GMT

    As a Pakistani cricket fan I just want to apologise to ECB, English players and fans for the stupid comments made by Ijaz Butt. I as a Pakistani am thankful that given the security problems in our country, ECB were kind enough to assist us throughout the summer and give me the opportunity to enjoy GREAT summer of cricket. Ijaz Butt and my fellow countrymen should appreciate what ECB have done for us and their ongoing support, instead of PCB Chairman accusing England players who are highly professional for spot / match fixing.

  • kirk adler on September 21, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Ijaz Buut, you did a great a job by speaking against England sick and rubbish media and ECB. All Pakistanis are backing you and don't bother what English sick commentator are saying. Ijaz go ahead and take strong action against ECB and Their ever foolish and rubish media

  • Abbas on September 21, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    I won't say whatever Mr.Butt said in relation to England Players was right , its wrong absolutly,and defenatly it has damaged the game of cricket, but in response to above artical, I defenatly wana say that they way media , past players and ICC are reacting and backing up england players why they didn't so whn pakistan players and team was put under hammer without any solid proof.Is it not double standard.??? if English players can get hurt by the remarks of 1 person, wht about pakistani Players who is facing these troubles since 1 Month now.???????Wht is the proof that Vidio showing no balls was genuine and it was not made after the balls were delevired?????Why can't Mazher Mujeed be Hired by newspaper to spoil the carrier of pakistani players??

  • sohel on September 21, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    Quote: Butt, a man who has evidently not fully mastered the delicate arts of diplomacy. Unquote: Butt acted childish other than professionally. He could have used the allegation against English cricketers as an speculation to establish his point, but, not a direct allegation. He is not thankful to England (ECB) for their cooperation in such a turmoil period for Pakistan cricket after shooting incident. He must resign or be removed. I doubt that to happen since professionalism is not an much appreciated word in this sub-continent.

  • Faraz on September 21, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    hahaha....nice

  • Khurram on September 21, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    enjoyed the article but I wish you had cracked a joke about ICC bringing in dirty international politics in to this game and some boards, drunk with power both new and old, trying to be a bunch of saints.

  • Mansoor on September 21, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    Mr Andy, your's is a natural reaction from someone who obiously favours England team. Do you realise what the English media has done to damage the reputation of Pak players? And why only those players who were doing very good? Why is it always that English media is prowling on Pak crickters wether its today or 1992? or is it just an innocent cooincidence? You should also condenm ICC for thier handling of this case and the media trial of Pak players...Pakistani people do not appreciate the way you ahve treated your guests!!! Shame on English media...

  • Yasir Hasan on September 21, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    Cricket has seen many crises but it was the game that came out as winner every time. No player even the Don is not bigger than the game...Cricket Rocks... Cricket Rules... :-)

  • niz on September 21, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    tit for tat

  • Aurangzeb Shah on September 21, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    I think BUTT should not speak like this but the fact is that why only the Pakistan team is under attack?? We know about Hansie Cronie and about some Indian Players Jadeja,Azhuruddin,Kapil,and even Tendulker. So I think the ICC should first investigates and then can go for punishment

  • Alex Rickets on September 21, 2010, 8:53 GMT

    Your writing is absolutely brilliant Andy - I get a small twinge of excitement every time I see your name on the Cricinfo home page, and more often than not your articles are brimming with this kind of humour and wordplay. Quite wonderful.

  • sab on September 21, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    this article doesn't make any sense, it should be in english...lol, what should i comment about it does it deserve to be commented, i dont think so, its the writter's own ficticious mind theory...good luck to him anyways

  • Abbas on September 21, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    when pak loses,you say it is FIXED, when eng loses,you never say it is fixed by england,but blame on pak, you are a MAFIA,just do not want to see pak,as a world beater

  • Khuram Shahzad on September 21, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    So england team couldnt take the pressure and crumbled. Pakistan had to play under the clouds of English madia trial all summer and still came up with good cricket. Well done boys this is the best way to silance the people who are trying to shut you down.

  • Kunal on September 21, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    "A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job more promptly and equally effectively. " Absolutely hilarious. In such a time for cricket, Page 2 humor has been so welcome.

    Now only if the India - Australia Test Series produces some top level cricket. Will love to hear your comments on that Andrew. Cheers

  • Inayat ali on September 21, 2010, 8:23 GMT

    if we cricket lovers take comments of Ijaz Butt serious we are wasting our time.

    he changes his words every second and he is the main reason behind the drop of the pakistan cricket.

    so lets play the cricket in a good spirit and forget the other rubbish things

  • hK on September 21, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    A quickly extended middle finger to Mr. Andy for writing this crap.

    Dude, what are you bullshitting? millions back home watched the last match and already up setting up screens & all for the final.

    If pakiz are cheaters who can win & lose at will, den wot r ur players- bowling & batting machines acting all noob???

  • Ali on September 21, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    The news of the world & the sun should also be sued by the PCB for manufacturing allegations against the Pakistani team. They should be sued for bribing Azhar Majeed into confessing the set up. How cruel, if allegations against Pakistan can be accepted, players suspended even, why can't the English digest an allegation (still under investigation by PCB). Hypocrisy!! See how it feels when the tables are turned. To your point 2. If all Pakistani batting collapses during 80s & 90s were done via bokmakers, then all pakistani players of that era will living in yaughts & smoking gold plated cigars too!! At point 3, I don't know if Butt actually tried that, but for sure the modern media has done so against the Pakistanis!! When Pakistanis pioneered reverse swing, we were labelled as cheaters, but when te science behidn it was understood & other teams demonstrated it, it was legalized!! What hypocrisy, this attitude speaks volumes about the foes Pakistani cricket has had over the years!!!

  • Ali Shah on September 21, 2010, 7:36 GMT

    "ut to hear a boxing and athletics commentator make this complaint was rather like listening to famous flamboyant cooking starlet Heston Blumenthal whinge about overcomplicated recipes, or paint-splattering art wiz Jackson Pollock grumble at a picture not being realistic enough.

    The Lord’s game yesterday began under the now-traditional shadow of match-fixing allegations, as England responded to the latest inane witterings of PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt with furious threats of legal action, damnation and teeth-gritting. A slowly extended middle finger would probably have done the job more promptly and equally effectively.".......LOL.......too good

  • Anonymous on September 21, 2010, 7:29 GMT

    Wonderful article. Being a Pakistan fan I appreciate the way English Team has acted and supported the Pakistani Cricketing cause and Team. Ridiculous I.Butt is a shame - oh dear....

  • Pak-passion on September 21, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    I too suspect that cricket is now operating undercover as a dog. That dog is Ijaz Butt's dog or simply his face on a canine body pretending to be a dog. If one was teaching a class in political campaigns they could show archival footage of Butt as a lesson in how not to behave. Ignorant baboons, such as Butt, represent the rancorous nepotism that has reduced Pakistan into a sad parody of a country. I hate condescension of any sort, and therefore find the pretension of Europe boring and antiquated. Yet, condescension is the only emotion that I feel when I see Butt's face, and I could easily imagine feeling nothing but condescension if I was on the outside looking in. There might even have been an excuse for Nazi Germans to execute us, had the fuhrer been forced to sit through the retarded pant hooting of Butt. Richard Dawkins might even pencil in a chapter of how Pakistan deserves to fail as a nation state, because it has failed to evolve. I hate being from the same country, enough said

  • Pak-passion on September 21, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    I too suspect that cricket is now operating undercover as a dog. That dog is Ijaz Butt's dog or simply his face on a canine body pretending to be a dog. If one was teaching a class in political campaigns they could show archival footage of Butt as a lesson in how not to behave. Ignorant baboons, such as Butt, represent the rancorous nepotism that has reduced Pakistan into a sad parody of a country. I hate condescension of any sort, and therefore find the pretension of Europe boring and antiquated. Yet, condescension is the only emotion that I feel when I see Butt's face, and I could easily imagine feeling nothing but condescension if I was on the outside looking in. There might even have been an excuse for Nazi Germans to execute us, had the fuhrer been forced to sit through the retarded pant hooting of Butt. Richard Dawkins might even pencil in a chapter of how Pakistan deserves to fail as a nation state, because it has failed to evolve. I hate being from the same country, enough said

  • Riz on September 21, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    Could you please give me an idea your folish media and newspapers have connections with book makers or they themselves create them?

  • Imran Khan on September 21, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Andy Zaltzman! You are right most of the time, and I must say Butt should not have questioned the English team. But when only your team is being spotted and questioned despiye winning, one gets easily furious about the situation and those remarks by the Butt might be the result of such a situation. My questions are:

    1)- If the ICC is making an inquiry for the third ODI at Ovals, then why only Pakistani team has been draged into fixing allegation, why not the English Team, despite losing the game so horribly?

    2)- And before any probe has taken place, why whole English team was granted the clean chit that they were not involved in the fixing of Oval ODI?

    there is a lot of questions and answers arise from this situation, but one must realistically consider the whole scenario and must critically look at the both sides of the coins, before judging anyone. Especially Pakistan team, the plot is infact been set to eliminate Pakistan from the World Cup 2011, and India is backing it.

  • usman on September 21, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    I think English players are involved in match fixing because they had not taken their power play knowing this fact they had no more wicket after that. this can be a point. if ICC can believe Mazher for Pakistan why not for England. this shows biased attitude towards England. ICC has lost it's unbiasedness. politics is all around the Icc.

  • Taimor on September 21, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    The fact is England has not forgotten the defect it has faced from Pakistan in 1992 world cup. It was England's first and last hope to win a world cup and Pakistan has ruined it. FOr that reason Pakistan is being punished

  • Azm Aftab on September 21, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Dear Andy What goes around comes around, your media has defamed pakistani cricketers twice in this series! Why didnt u ask these questions then? WHY was ur media talking to fixers and bookies? DO the (pak) players in discussion own yachts? Let me remind you what a low standard your media has. Briitish media defamed Sir Alex Ferguson's son and since he has boycotted from commenting to BBC. Then the current Wayne rooney incident was made a headline material when it was a family matter of man and his wife (and his mistress). But they came up with aces when they pulled off the John Terry incident. Your media killed off your own country's worldcup campaign before it even started! and they timed it to perfection so they get the most coverage. They cud have done it when chelsea won the league...but no...that wouldnt be as sensational. So with all due respect atleast now the English players understand how it feels to be accussed whether you win or you lose. Ridiculous!

  • Ishrat Junaid on September 21, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    As i often write that it is easy to make comments on other doings but it is difficult to look into ones own doings. What is taking so long for ICC or the other institutions involved in the investigation so long to come out with the result of their findings. The longer it takes they will just make things more complicated by hearing comments from all over the people who are involved in the cricket. Naturally the involved people would definitely get frustrated for the delay tactics of ICC or other investigations institutions. it seems they are trying to dig from the underground from anywhere and just want to make allegations. Simple things are taking a long time, i dont know how well educated people are handling the matter to solve a simple thing. They must think wisely and get the things going in a smooth and good understanding . All the matches being played among the teams show harmony and friendliness and no signs of any unwanted incident. Request all to keep the spirit of crik.

  • Ishrat Junaid on September 21, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    As i often write that it is easy to make comments on other doings but it is difficult to look into ones own doings. What is taking so long for ICC or the other institutions involved in the investigation so long to come out with the result of their findings. The longer it takes they will just make things more complicated by hearing comments from all over the people who are involved in the cricket. Naturally the involved people would definitely get frustrated for the delay tactics of ICC or other investigations institutions. it seems they are trying to dig from the underground from anywhere and just want to make allegations. Simple things are taking a long time, i dont know how well educated people are handling the matter to solve a simple thing. They must think wisely and get the things going in a smooth and good understanding . All the matches being played among the teams show harmony and friendliness and no signs of any unwanted incident. Request all to keep the spirit of crik.

  • Ahmad on September 21, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Though its a well written article but it still lacks some facts, Why every time the allegations are made agaonst Pak even though if they win the match? When Strauss lose his wicket yesterday the commentators were saying England will loose, at that time England had 7 wickets in hand and plenty of overs, should we call this match fixing too? RCB lost to MI by one run, was it a match fixing? why do ICC starts invetigation on media reports and not by its own invetogation cell?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Ahmad on September 21, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    Though its a well written article but it still lacks some facts, Why every time the allegations are made agaonst Pak even though if they win the match? When Strauss lose his wicket yesterday the commentators were saying England will loose, at that time England had 7 wickets in hand and plenty of overs, should we call this match fixing too? RCB lost to MI by one run, was it a match fixing? why do ICC starts invetigation on media reports and not by its own invetogation cell?

  • Ishrat Junaid on September 21, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    As i often write that it is easy to make comments on other doings but it is difficult to look into ones own doings. What is taking so long for ICC or the other institutions involved in the investigation so long to come out with the result of their findings. The longer it takes they will just make things more complicated by hearing comments from all over the people who are involved in the cricket. Naturally the involved people would definitely get frustrated for the delay tactics of ICC or other investigations institutions. it seems they are trying to dig from the underground from anywhere and just want to make allegations. Simple things are taking a long time, i dont know how well educated people are handling the matter to solve a simple thing. They must think wisely and get the things going in a smooth and good understanding . All the matches being played among the teams show harmony and friendliness and no signs of any unwanted incident. Request all to keep the spirit of crik.

  • Ishrat Junaid on September 21, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    As i often write that it is easy to make comments on other doings but it is difficult to look into ones own doings. What is taking so long for ICC or the other institutions involved in the investigation so long to come out with the result of their findings. The longer it takes they will just make things more complicated by hearing comments from all over the people who are involved in the cricket. Naturally the involved people would definitely get frustrated for the delay tactics of ICC or other investigations institutions. it seems they are trying to dig from the underground from anywhere and just want to make allegations. Simple things are taking a long time, i dont know how well educated people are handling the matter to solve a simple thing. They must think wisely and get the things going in a smooth and good understanding . All the matches being played among the teams show harmony and friendliness and no signs of any unwanted incident. Request all to keep the spirit of crik.

  • Azm Aftab on September 21, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    Dear Andy What goes around comes around, your media has defamed pakistani cricketers twice in this series! Why didnt u ask these questions then? WHY was ur media talking to fixers and bookies? DO the (pak) players in discussion own yachts? Let me remind you what a low standard your media has. Briitish media defamed Sir Alex Ferguson's son and since he has boycotted from commenting to BBC. Then the current Wayne rooney incident was made a headline material when it was a family matter of man and his wife (and his mistress). But they came up with aces when they pulled off the John Terry incident. Your media killed off your own country's worldcup campaign before it even started! and they timed it to perfection so they get the most coverage. They cud have done it when chelsea won the league...but no...that wouldnt be as sensational. So with all due respect atleast now the English players understand how it feels to be accussed whether you win or you lose. Ridiculous!

  • Taimor on September 21, 2010, 7:08 GMT

    The fact is England has not forgotten the defect it has faced from Pakistan in 1992 world cup. It was England's first and last hope to win a world cup and Pakistan has ruined it. FOr that reason Pakistan is being punished

  • usman on September 21, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    I think English players are involved in match fixing because they had not taken their power play knowing this fact they had no more wicket after that. this can be a point. if ICC can believe Mazher for Pakistan why not for England. this shows biased attitude towards England. ICC has lost it's unbiasedness. politics is all around the Icc.

  • Imran Khan on September 21, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Andy Zaltzman! You are right most of the time, and I must say Butt should not have questioned the English team. But when only your team is being spotted and questioned despiye winning, one gets easily furious about the situation and those remarks by the Butt might be the result of such a situation. My questions are:

    1)- If the ICC is making an inquiry for the third ODI at Ovals, then why only Pakistani team has been draged into fixing allegation, why not the English Team, despite losing the game so horribly?

    2)- And before any probe has taken place, why whole English team was granted the clean chit that they were not involved in the fixing of Oval ODI?

    there is a lot of questions and answers arise from this situation, but one must realistically consider the whole scenario and must critically look at the both sides of the coins, before judging anyone. Especially Pakistan team, the plot is infact been set to eliminate Pakistan from the World Cup 2011, and India is backing it.

  • Riz on September 21, 2010, 7:22 GMT

    Could you please give me an idea your folish media and newspapers have connections with book makers or they themselves create them?

  • Pak-passion on September 21, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    I too suspect that cricket is now operating undercover as a dog. That dog is Ijaz Butt's dog or simply his face on a canine body pretending to be a dog. If one was teaching a class in political campaigns they could show archival footage of Butt as a lesson in how not to behave. Ignorant baboons, such as Butt, represent the rancorous nepotism that has reduced Pakistan into a sad parody of a country. I hate condescension of any sort, and therefore find the pretension of Europe boring and antiquated. Yet, condescension is the only emotion that I feel when I see Butt's face, and I could easily imagine feeling nothing but condescension if I was on the outside looking in. There might even have been an excuse for Nazi Germans to execute us, had the fuhrer been forced to sit through the retarded pant hooting of Butt. Richard Dawkins might even pencil in a chapter of how Pakistan deserves to fail as a nation state, because it has failed to evolve. I hate being from the same country, enough said

  • Pak-passion on September 21, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    I too suspect that cricket is now operating undercover as a dog. That dog is Ijaz Butt's dog or simply his face on a canine body pretending to be a dog. If one was teaching a class in political campaigns they could show archival footage of Butt as a lesson in how not to behave. Ignorant baboons, such as Butt, represent the rancorous nepotism that has reduced Pakistan into a sad parody of a country. I hate condescension of any sort, and therefore find the pretension of Europe boring and antiquated. Yet, condescension is the only emotion that I feel when I see Butt's face, and I could easily imagine feeling nothing but condescension if I was on the outside looking in. There might even have been an excuse for Nazi Germans to execute us, had the fuhrer been forced to sit through the retarded pant hooting of Butt. Richard Dawkins might even pencil in a chapter of how Pakistan deserves to fail as a nation state, because it has failed to evolve. I hate being from the same country, enough said