September 24, 2010

Pakistan must join the fight against match-fixing

If players need to be made an example of and kicked out of the game, so be it
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In one part of the world a cricket season ends amidst rancour and relief, neither word welcome to lovers of the game. In another a new season begins amidst hope and expectation but with trust injured. India v Australia should be a cracker and there are enough people who respect sport and cricket on either side. It is a pity that we should even be thinking this way.

Over the last few weeks the word "conspiracy" has infected cricket and many of its followers. We seem to be in the company of the dark and the sinister, and also of the irrational and the volatile, and every day members of the latter tribe fill airwaves and waste newsprint. Pakistan is sadly in the grip of it, with many, including the head of their cricket, convinced there is an international plot to wound, and maybe eliminate, their cricket. Hopefully, lost in the maze, there is a point somewhere there, but there is another too that is staring at them: the cricket world does not benefit from preventing Pakistan from playing; it becomes poorer. It is easy to see.

Pakistan must join the fight against match-fixing - which they so admirably did with the Qayyum Commission - rather than live in denial. Irrespective of where they stand on the ICC rankings, they possess the players to become a major power, and at least for that reason, must join the table rather than walk away from it. Cricket needs self-policing because external authorities can only do so much. Everyone understands that you can never stop fixing, whatever nomenclature it goes by, and that is why each country must take a strong position. And that is why the deterrents must be almost brutal. If the bookie doesn't scare a cricketer the results of dealing with a bookie must.

When the game is in peril it needs strong legislation. For heaven's sake, some cricketers who bent their arms while bowling have been asked to go away till they reform; bent morals should not be difficult to punish

If that means young players have to be made an example of, so be it. Stopping a young player today, denying him his livelihood from the game, could prevent many others from heading down that path. And that is why the ICC must impose significant bans if the home association doesn't in the first place. When the game is in peril it needs strong legislation. For heaven's sake, some cricketers who bent their arms while bowling have been asked to go away till they reform; bent morals should not be difficult to punish. And in any case nobody is going to jail; they could dabble in software, become carpenters, start a business, go into politics... anything. Living life with a second-choice option is still better than many are afforded.

Luckily the Champions League was immune to all the drama. It is an ambitious tournament with its heart in the right place. It is taking time to establish itself, but in recent times only the IPL has got off the ground a winner from day one. For it to be seen as one notch above the IPL, the Champions League needs to get the right teams, and in both years there have been some ordinary entries. Evenly matched teams make for good contests and in the years ahead that should be the first priority. It may also not be a bad idea for the rules to allow non-IPL teams to hire Indian or other overseas players for the Champions League. Sehwag playing for the Victoria Bushrangers is no different from Kallis playing for the Royal Challengers. But the tournament has brought joy to many and in troubled times that is good.

Within a week some of these players will not just be shedding coloured clothes for white ones, they will also be packing away some exotic shots for more orthodox ones. Innings building will again become a priority. Dravid will not look to loft over long-off if he is kept quiet for a couple of overs, and Dhoni will not have to worry about Super Overs. It should be fun as long as we keep conspiracy theories away from it and fixing matches becomes as difficult as fixing taps and roofs at the Commonwealth Games!

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator with the BCCI and a television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Toescrusher on September 27, 2010, 21:11 GMT

    India never had bent arm problem so what do you know about bent arm issue? Wait till India produces genuine fast bowler then talk about bent arm issue.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on September 27, 2010, 11:03 GMT

    Yassar - I agree with you that sport in general faces HUGE issues when it comes to corruption. This is especially so now individuals have access to powerful communications and technology. I also have some sympathy for Pakistan supporters who feel under siege at the moment with all the finger pointing. My understanding with the specifics of the 3 Pakistani test players accused of match fixing are that: a) the film evidence was "time locked" by the News Of The World (i.e. was timestamped irrefutably BEFORE the match happened) 2) The serial numbers of bank notes the NOTW handed over to the 3 players were recorded and police confirmed that these bank notes was found in the players' hotel rooms. To me that it HIGHLY CREDIBLE evidence these guys were weak enough to take bribes and cheat. As a lifelong cricket player and fan, what worries me is the stance Butt has taken and the total SILENCE over how the PCB is progressing investigations. What are they doing RIGHT NOW to restore integrity?

  • Yassar on September 27, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    There is no doubt Pakistan cricket has some serious issues that it needs to deal with. BUT by that account so does world cricket including all the major playing nations. There has been a lot of unfair and unjust reporting in the media surrounding the Pakistani team. I also feel Pakistan has been treated unfairly by the ICC but that is a result of a weak and incompetent Pakistan administration.

  • ZA77 on September 27, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    Pakistani players are still not cleared and Mazhar Majeed got the the clearence and now he is running the director position of English football club. What is going on? Why are not clearing our players even after the clearance of main person in whole story. No video shows any direct link of any player in the match fixing scandal. Only we have to rely on the words of Mazhar Majeed and now he is cleared. Why they are not clearing others. Now all are talking that PCB should take steps. Why they should take step when nothing happened. Ian Botham said PCB should ban. Can I ask him why, only media created story and now you want ban. ECB played no role in whole story to give support to PCB although they know they are 100% innocent. Our players were weeping when they know about it as they are playing with their careers. It looks like that every one want a scape goat in the shape of our players to show they are cleaning system. Why they searched players room wihout proofs.

  • syedahmed91 on September 26, 2010, 19:21 GMT

    Mazhaar majeed cleared, nothing was proven. Allowed to take part in english football team as a executive HAHAHAHAHA WHAT A FREAKING JOKE. mate change the title to "Pakistan must be slaughtered" because that is what your really trying to say here. Again british tabloids prove nothing but how ignorant and racist they are against the pakistani's and all of you *COMEDIANS* take cheap shots at the pakistani's. Why has no-one talked about how unfairly pakistan has been treated as a team? sure criticize the management but the players? no the players have nothing to do with this the players need to be given some sort of a break looking at everything thats been happening to them. Axed from playing ipl, can't play cricket at home, can't go play CHAMPIONS league, can't join "unauthorized" LOL leagues, can't do this, can't do that. How about make an article about what the pakistani's CAN DO to provide for their families or how MUCH more their counter players are making.

  • karabara on September 26, 2010, 19:05 GMT

    HARSHA I HAVE A FEW SIMPLE QUESTIONS AND I HOPE YOU KNOW THE ANSWERS.

    1. CRICKET GAMBLING IS LEGAL IN INDIA ? YES OR NO. 2. ARE THERE ANY CRICKET BOOKIES IN INDIA? YES OR NO 3. IS INDIA THE BIGGEST GAMBLER ON CRICKET? YES OR NO 4. DOES GAMBLING PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN MATCH FIXING? YES OR NO 5. DO YOU THINK THAT THE MATCHES PAKISTAN VS ENGLAND WERE FIX? YES OR NO

  • Toescrusher on September 26, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    "India must join the fight"

  • B-Positive on September 26, 2010, 17:28 GMT

    BIG NEWS for all of u, Pakistani players r still suspended & look whats hapenning here The Main person of the whole scandal Mazhar Majeed got the the clearence to work & run as the director of English football club. They r claiming that nothing has been proved yet so we can't as him to LEAVE. I believe that's what Mr BUTT trying to explain the world. Specially ICC & ECC. I wish they would have more cautious before taking any decision.

  • Thirdman3 on September 26, 2010, 15:44 GMT

    To Indand Eng fans, Can we trust on English media and image of ball tempering by shoiab akhter if you want to concentrate only on one side Pakistan to make issues against them then we hav lot of things to make issues against other side all are visible on TV . Bad sportman spirit by successful captain of England you know why he did not left the field on major deflection because of fear of pakistani bowler and defeat. We saw fear clearly on his face even pakistan is not playing well this is enough to prove Pakistan is strong side and also bad umpiring not refering to TV umpires and if you see matches there were lot of time English bowler were doing ball tempering but cameraman suddenly change the direction of camera but I have got one image of ball tempering by Tim Bresnan ( England bowler ) but I dont know how to post it on here. All these are enough to prove that ICC is the most corrupted and one sided organistaion I have ever seen.. Shame on them lot of mistakes Cricket similar to WWF

  • usman_nile1994 on September 26, 2010, 14:40 GMT

    Well the way Mumbai Indians play (not any other ipl team) i hugely suspect them as match fixers (including Sachin Pollard Bravo all). The reason is that their way of losing seems to be really weird. Their players do not look to play with heart. Dropped catches , batsmen struggling.

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