April 9, 2001

Further twist to Javed's match-fixing comments creates confusion

Javed Miandad has denied claiming that the series between New Zealand and Pakistan was 'fixed.'

Previously quoted as telling AFP: "Enough is enough. I was silent just for the country's sake but now I must come out in the open. We have video and audio footage that can prove we lost to New Zealand due to match-fixing," Miandad now claims, "I don't know how the statement of match-fixing was attributed to me.

"What I said was the Pakistan Cricket Board should hold an internal inquiry to find out causes of defeat in recent series," he is quoted as saying in The News, a paper in Pakistan. "What I said was that the board should hold an internal inquiry to find out the causes of defeat in the series in New Zealand, what led to the injuries, the below-par performances, but my demand was based on purely cricketing reasons, not because I suspect match-fixing."

So far apart are the two different interviews that individual interpretation cannot be blamed for any misunderstanding. "Match fixing should be eliminated from Pakistan and PCB should launch another inquiry so that facts can be ascertained," AFP quote Miandad as saying. Perhaps he will now consider legal action as a means of restoring credibility to his pronouncements?

Miandad had claimed that he was the man to turn around the fortunes of an ailing Pakistan team ("Give me a young team and I will produce results" he said), but his period in the role of coach appears to have brought more division, without arresting the decline in results. Some may read his earlier reported comments as an attempt to absolve himself of any blame for the failures. The subsequent back-tracking may be an attempt to repair the damage caused by words spoken in haste.

Although the PCB have softened the blow of Miandad's dismissal from the coaching role by insisting that he has been moved to a position on the board in order to add a player's perspective, he has, in effect, been sacked. A proud man with an illustrious playing career behind him might find such public humiliation hard to bear.

Meanwhile, Steve Dunne, one of the umpires in the recent one-day series between Pakistan and New Zealand has refuted the suggestion the games were fixed. Talking to the New Zealand Herald, Dunne said: "I can tell you they (Pakistan) were certainly giving nothing away. I mean, cripes, the way I read it out in the middle, the whole Pakistan team were giving it their all right until the very last ball.

"As far as I was concerned it was a good game of cricket played on a good track and I noticed nothing untoward about the players' behaviour whatsoever."

The Pakistan Cricket Board seems to agree. There will be an enquiry into the team's disappointing performance in New Zealand, but it will not encompass a match-fixing investigation. One issue that has been overlooked to date, however, is that New Zealand played pretty well in the recent encounters. To focus purely on the Pakistan team detracts from the credit due to the Kiwis. As John Reid, New Zealand Cricket operations manager, has said: "I have a lot of sympathy for our players and management who went through a difficult, injury-ravaged summer, worked hard, achieved a terrific result and now the gloss has been taken away."

Who can solve the riddle of the Pakistan cricket team? Abundantly talented, but apparently profoundly divided. The search for the new coach should take into account more than the technical requirements usually associated with such a position. A need for calm is paramount. An individual prepared to take a step back from the spotlight and not to inflame the situation would seem sensible.