The talking points of the moment

'This will hurt Pakistan cricket for a long time' - Ramiz Raja

Ramiz Raja says the PCB should react honestly to the latest spot-fixing controversy, perhaps take out the players who are allegedly involved from the ODI series, and start afresh (07:47)

August 29, 2010


Spot-fixing controversy

'This will hurt Pakistan cricket for a long time' - Ramiz Raja

August 29, 2010

Mohammad Amir was the one Pakistan player to attend the presentation ceremony, England v Pakistan, 4th Test, Lord's, August 29, 2010
Mohammad Amir is among the players at the centre of the latest controversy © AFP

Andrew Miller: I'm talking to Ramiz Raja on a very sad day for cricket. The match is going on; it's eight wickets down already. Nobody seems to have anything to say about the cricket at the moment. Should this game actually be taking place now, given what we've learnt overnight?

Ramiz Raja: Yes, cricket has got to move on. The onus is now on the administrators to clean up the act and come straight, be honest with the purpose, look at the faults in the system and try to eradicate it with honesty and purpose.

AM: When you heard of the revelations in News of the World, what was your initial reaction?

RR: Utter shock, disbelief, anger, anguish. I was extremely hurt. This is a young team and in a better, healthy environment - where they came back strongly to win the Oval Test, where they matched the Australians wicket for wicket, shot for shot. And to get this kind of a shock was utter disbelief, really. And to see a young 18-year old [Mohammad Amir] being dragged into the controversy is even worse. He had the world; everyone was raving about the talent and praising him. It is such a sad moment in cricket because events do match with what happened on the field, and that's the scary part. The other scary part is that it's not finished, it's not eradicated. We're now facing the menace of micro-fixing or spot-fixing which is terrible.

AM: It is now ten years on since that original scandal. Saleem Malik was banned. You mentioned spot-fixing; is this really what it's about at the moment or is it just the tip of the iceberg?

RR: When it happened in 1994, I was part of that Pakistan team. I was a complete loopy. I had no clue about what was happening. It was only at the end of the tour, when Intikhab Alam confided in me that there was some match-fixing that had taken place. I said 'why are you telling me now? Why didn't you take any action there and then?' He said 'I'm going to put in a report.' A report was put in [but] the administrators completely sidetracked the issue and swept everything under the rug. So I wouldn't have a clue as to what was happening or how many more matches we'll see where there'll be doubt. So I would only be guessing.

But this is for real. Whatever was published, taped and recorded by News of the World, that's the sequence that actually did happen. It is such a damning report and clue, and I don't know how the PCB will react. It should react honestly, take out the players out of the one-day squad even though, right now, these are mere allegations and they've got an inquiry in place. But take the players out of the one-day squad if they want to redeem Pakistan cricket and start from a fresh page.

"Unless the authorities take a firm stance on this, cricket will lose its simplicity, honesty and integrity" Ramiz Raja

AM: There are four players who have been named in this investigation, including Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif. Seven are alluded to by News of the World and the man himself Mazher Majeed says there are ten players that he has got on his books. If that is the case, we're talking about the entire squad being sent home at this rate.

RR: I don't know how these operators operate. They at times boast to suck the entrepreneur in. I don't know. It is shocking really. I don't know how much damage it has actually done. If that's the case, obviously we need a brand new side.

AM: Coming back to the case of Amir, he is clearly the saddest case in all this. Given what we've seen of his talent this summer: he is 18 years and 136 days, he's got to 50 wickets, he's broken record after record, he looks, by everyone's account, one of the best fast-bowling prospects there's ever been. How can it be that he can be drawn into a nexus like this so quickly in his career?

RR: I've got no idea. I'd be guessing but I can paint you a picture. Initially, in the 70s and the 80s, cricket was played in major cities like Lahore and Karachi. But because of the passion and how cricket has grown in Pakistan, it's also mushroomed in smaller towns and villages. So it's become a little unpredictable to generalize the make-up of someone's character. Whereas, once, you could identify a city boy, it's very difficult now to identify a rustic character. Amir comes from a humble background. He is 18, with an impressionable mind ..

AM: Talking of the money involved, that's one of the boasts, in fact, of the fixer in the News of the World. He says that these guys are paid peanuts, they need the money. What sort of salary would they be on?

RR: He compared them with the footballers. Cricketers, obviously, don't get paid as much as footballers. But by cricketing standards it's a reasonable amount. They now get central contracts, where certain amount of money is guaranteed. There are private leagues, county cricket. It's not that there is not enough money in the circuit. But if you have an extra want for money, then obviously no amount is enough for you.

AM: Can you put a figure on it? What would you have been paid in your day?

RR: Peanuts, compared to what they get right now. Nothing at all, basically. But in our era, we obviously played for the game. We played the game and then looked for other initiatives that came with becoming a good Test cricketer. Now it's the reverse attitude where you look for money before becoming a good player.

AM: Where does the game go from here? It has already been an extraordinary game with the Stuart Broad-Jonathan Trott partnership. They alone look like beating Pakistan twice over. It has been an extraordinary game on the scorecard but will the public buy it? Will they actually believe that this is a legitimate match that has taken place and pretend that these allegations didn't actually affect the outcome?

RR: England played really well, they deserve a victory. It's unfortunate that their performance has been sidelined by all this crap. Cricket has been hurt quite badly once again. People will doubt the performance of certain teams, especially from the subcontinent. It's becoming a regular occurrence, unfortunately. Certain players are being pointed out for underperforming. And unless the authorities take a firm stance on this, cricket will lose its simplicity, honesty and integrity. I don't know how long it will take for cricket in Pakistan to grow back to its normal stature. This will hurt Pakistan cricket for a very long time.

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