Spot-fixing controversy

Imran wants harsh punishment as deterrent

Cricinfo staff

August 30, 2010

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Imran Khan was a spectator at the second ODI, Pakistan v Australia, 2nd ODI, Dubai, April 24, 2009
Imran Khan: "The guilty should be punished as an example for future generations to realise that crime does not pay" © Associated Press
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Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has said he is concerned about the long-term repercussions the match-fixing crisis could have on the country's cricketing establishment but feels it is a chance for the authorities to act in a manner that would discourage future cricketers from considering such activities.

"If they are proved, not just in terms of the best players in the team being implicated but from the public point of view, they would not understand the finer points of the game and each time they lose they will think it's a fixed match," Imran told Britain's ITV channel.

"Why should Pakistan cricket suffer if some players have indulged in a crime? Why should Pakistani supporters suffer because of that? The people who are found guilty should be removed from the team and replaced and should be punished as an example for future generations to realise that crime does not pay."

Reactions to the issue have come in thick and fast, especially from former cricketers. Matthew Hayden, the former Australia opener, said it was "not in Australia's DNA to accept any kind of skullduggery", and felt the scandal highlighted the different cultures that exist in the game. "You have a look at Pakistan which has been wiped out by the recent floods and you put yourself in the position that maybe you can try and get what's left of your family and salvage the situation," Hayden told AAP. "We wouldn't ever dare get involved in corruption but that's in our country."

Hayden's one-time Australia team-mate Ian Healy, felt that players involved in fixing did not care enough for their country, and was pleased that they may have been caught in the act. "We'd be stupid to think this is new," he said. "How long has this lurk been going on? It's a long time I'm sure, but it's been caught which is awesome," said Healy, who also recalled a dodgy victory against Pakistan in the 90s which later came under the match-fixing scanner.

"This game in Sri Lanka we thought we were heroes - we were high-fiving fools. It came out a year later that that game was brought into question," Healy said.

Healy, however, said that he felt Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal did not deliberately drop catches during the Sydney Test, which Mahzar Majeed, the man at the centre of the spot-fixing controversy, claimed was also fixed to News of the World. Healy said Akmal came to him for advice because he was struggling with his keeping.

"He was stiff as a board and extremely tense. You couldn't drop those on purpose they way he was doing it," Healy told the Sydney Morning Herald. "His technique had gone off, which he told me about two weeks before - the ball wasn't going into his glove that well for the spinners. I said to him, 'look, we'll work on that in Hobart'. I wasn't going to the Sydney Test. And then he did that. It didn't look to me as if they were on purpose at all."

Michael Hussey, the Australian batsman who was let off by Akmal in Sydney, also said he felt the mistakes were genuine. "It all happens in a split second," he said. "Especially the catches off me ... they were all up to the stumps. With those sort of catches they either go in or they don't. I don't think you can try to drop those."

Former ICC chief Malcolm Speed said there was a "fairly compelling case" for suspending Pakistan from the ICC. "It looks as though it is endemic that several of the team members are involved and have been for some time," Speed told ABC radio. "So perhaps they need a rest."

Speed echoed Healy's views that the unearthing of the scandal was a step forward for the game. "[It's] great that they've been caught in England where there is a very sophisticated legal system that deals with conspiracy and specifically with cheating in sport. So I see that as a major positive," he said. "I would have liked it to have happened when I was involved with ICC but it didn't happen at that time."

Ehsan Mani, a former ICC president, called for the PCB to act swiftly. "The allegations have painted Pakistan cricket in a bad light and we need to take swift action to clear the situation, but I don't think there's any fear that teams will boycott us [Pakistan]," Mani told AFP. "Lack of action or any cover up will damage Pakistan cricket badly. Match-fixing allegations have been hurting Pakistan cricket and the latest saga is a poor reflection on the board, which has failed to deal with the matter as they have failed to control the players."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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