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April 8, 2011

Pakistan cricket

More shame for the nameless

Kamran Abbasi
Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif leave the team hotel in Taunton for London, Taunton, September 1, 2010
The three players who brought dishonour to cricket  © Getty Images
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Tombs to unnamed soldiers are symbolic memorials to unidentifiable warriors who have died on the battlefield. Wisden's withdrawn accolade to the unnamed Pakistan cricketer has heavy symbolism of its own: a memorial to the identified and unidentified cricketers who have brought dishonour to the game of cricket.

Selection as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year is the 'oldest honour in cricket,' rarely awarded to Pakistanis. Englishmen, Australians, South Africans, West Indians, and Indians have all been more frequently honoured. Fazal Mahmood was the first Pakistani in 1955, and those who have followed include Asif Iqbal, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Hanif and Mushtaq Mohammad, and the two Ws.

The editor, in this case Scyld Berry, takes the decision. There is no science to it, only a reasoned judgement, and to leave one of this year's spots vacant is a measure of the impact the spot-fixing scandal had on last year's international cricket. It is a moment of extreme frustration and deep shame.

Some might argue that Berry should have chosen an alternative, and he is unnecessarily humiliating Pakistan cricket, but that would be to misunderstand the man. Corruption has been damaging international cricket for over a decade, yet after each spur of controversy we rapidly move on to more comfortable themes, eager to banish the notion that what is enthralling us could be a stage-managed farce.

While Pakistan isn't the only country to be dishonoured by corruption, its players have become corruption's most constant bedfellows, admittedly for many complex reasons. Indeed, what chance do the players have when its own cricket board acts with disregard for integrity?

Only yesterday Pakistan's senate was informed that journalists from national newspapers, news agencies, and broadcasters had taken payments from the Pakistan Cricket Board. Travel expenses to support a poorly funded profession might just be allowable, but much more was paid on top, to the tune of $70,000 in cash over the last 3 years. What was this money for? Why was it never declared by the journalists or the cricket board? A culture of corruption is never a culture to nurture progress.

In our desire to move on, we may have already forgotten how Pakistan's young team was winning hearts and accolades last summer with incredible Test victories over England and Australia. The skills of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif had created an excited buzz. Salman Butt's young leadership was impressing peers and skeptics. But it was a grand deceit; the three architects of recovery were revealed as the conspirators of Pakistan's doom. It was a time of shock, horror, and grief.

Berry has remained silent about the unnamed cricketer of the year, offering arguments for any one of three banned cricketers, but can there really be any doubt? Only one man took the world by storm in the last 18 months, destroying batting orders around the world with a youthful exuberance that made him an instant star. Only one man's loss to international cricket is truly lamented, his rise from rags to riches a modern-day morality tale.

Pakistan is still feeling the consequences of Amir's ban. The touring party for the one-day series against West Indies is short of experienced pace bowling; rookies Junaid Khan and Sadaf Hussain selected to support Wahab Riaz, whose performance against India in Mohali suddenly casts him as Pakistan's go-to bowler. But this is the time to rebuild with fresh blood and cleansed souls, to begin the process that ensures the next time a Pakistan cricketer is one of Wisden's cricketers of the year his name his spoken with pride and not censored in disgrace.

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

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Keywords: Corruption, Wisden

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Angghie on (September 8, 2012, 9:28 GMT)

Now that Pakistan have won this tournament they will have to pfrroem to raised expectations of their fans. They wont be underdogs in the Champions trophy and it will be interesting to see how they handle pressure of expectations.

Posted by Nustian on (June 5, 2011, 18:01 GMT)

its happening in Pak Cricket due to PCB.. it cant handle things in way which these should be.. so the main problem is whole management with out support of them,an individual cant do such stupid things.. shame on PCB. Aamir is a geat loss for Pak.. money matters a lot when some comes from lower class when it see the money he want to grab it more in less time so this is what happen to aamir, asif

Posted by kyza on (May 4, 2011, 13:21 GMT)

I am really gutted about the situation with these 3 players, not so much for Salman, as I see it he is the lesser talent out of the 3 players, but he was the skipper and senior player ahead of the two A's, he allowed this to happen and made it so we lost 2 of the best bowlers in the world of cricket todat, I think fans of Pakistan were robbed by these players after a long time we found a replacement for Wasim Akram in Amir what a wasted talent for Pakistan, it's time we all moved on we have bigger players in Wahab,Junaid,Gul,Sami,Tanvir Ahmed,Sohail Khan,Sohail Tanvir, too many bowlers, we need to nuture these guys and make the great, Wahab is a wonderful bowler and has raw talent, we also have Rana Naved, Yasir Arafat, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammed Talha is another good prospect, Sadaf, there are so many bowlers in Pakistan come on use and help new talent, we have so luck in Pakistan to always find new young players.

Posted by Zulfiqar Ali on (April 22, 2011, 10:34 GMT)

I agree to the empty spot, not naming the obvious and the shame that comes along, but my heart goes out to that little boy who reminded the way cricket is to be FAUGHT as contest between bat and ball that I sorely miss in one day and 20/20 formats as well as test cricket. That smiled aggression was a new feature on a fading cricket scene which has not provided anything refreshing for such a while. We all knew of the background and we all knew this talent has not only to be nurtured but to be protected. He's thrown in the deep end to make the choices he does not have the capability of. The failure of that boy is the failure of the team management and the board than any one else. Sentence may have been given in this case but JUSTICE is yet to be done

Posted by kashijee40 on (April 21, 2011, 9:59 GMT)

It dsnt matter now i think AAMIR deserves it but it was himself who wasted the opportunity to get that honor. He was fentabulus bowler but if any one cross the line of the rules then he deserves the punishment

Posted by MASA on (April 16, 2011, 16:08 GMT)

If Tamim Iqbal can win wisden player of the year then my cousin who has passed his high school in just the fifth attempt should be awarded the nobel prize.

Posted by OnlyKaps on (April 15, 2011, 21:49 GMT)

Amir was a fab bowler, I havent seen a left armer like him since Wasim Akram (others may have had spots of brilliant bowling - Johnson at the Malaysia trophy 3 seasons back, Nehra vs England 2003 WC, or occasionally Zaheer ) but Amir bowled splendily thru the season. The exclusion from Wisden is just a reminder to posterity worldwide of the greatness that was there for the asking,,,, and wasted.

Posted by S.Khalid on (April 13, 2011, 19:23 GMT)

It is very heartening to see many people in favour of banning Amir, Asif and Butt for life. Any corruption should be stamped out. If you are old enough to stand trial, you are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. Let's clean up cricket and send a message out to youngsters by the example of the wasted talent of these guys.

Posted by Humayun Mirza on (April 13, 2011, 19:20 GMT)

Why would everyone in the world want to gang up against Pakistan? What possible benefit would anyone derive from it? Pakistanis need to dispense with these conspiracy theories and look inwards to identify any problem confronting them. And as for Indians, can you all accept an opinion as being just that! However flawed it may be, it may be Afridi's perception that Indians get a better ovation in Pakistan than vice versa. So just prove your "largeheartedness" by accepting it as his opinion and no more.

Posted by bilal on (April 13, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

A good articel..a bit patriotic which is how its supposed to be. What makes me wonder is certain comments about "big heart", let me clear it up for the dumb ones, he meant hospitality wise, becasue afridi sensed the snake-like behavior of the hosts and he was man enough to say it on TV. Coming back to the article, Kamran is very fair in his assessment and if he's optimistic about Pakistan's future, there's nothing wrong. I don't think an Indian writer will be "fair" toward pakistanis or anyone else for that matter. And besides Kamran is using this source of media to convey his thoughts, and being a pakistani, it should be skewed toward pakistan and not otherwise. And please dont tell me that media is bias free, coz if that's what you think, go and watch any indian channel pre Pak-india match. If still not convinced, then as they say "bhains k aagey been bajanay ka koi fayda nahi"

Having said all that, I am genuinely disappointed with the fixing scandal and hope it doesn't occur ever

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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