Saleem Malik, the former Pakistan captain, believes that he was made a scapegoat in the match-fixing scandal, which ruined his career.
Malik, currently in Mumbai for fund-raising purposes, went on to name a few cricketers who had been cleared in the match-fixing affair. An ANI report quoted him as saying, "Ata-ur Rehman's ban is off. Herschelle Gibbs and Shane Warne are still playing, but I am stuck. Other Pakistani players whose names appeared in the investigations were fined and let off. Only I was punished. I guess they wanted a scapegoat, and who better than me? In India, the board thought Azharuddin would be the ideal person to ban because he was nearing the end of his career, and here in Pakistan I was coming towards the end of my career. So, Azhar and I were made the scapegoats."
Malik felt that players from the subcontinent were at the receiving end of the ICC's anti-corruption unit. "England lost to Zimbabwe in the early 90s. West Indies were bowled out for 54 against England recently. But no one ever says those matches were fixed. The ICC continues to scrutinise only games where teams from the subcontinent are involved."
Accusing the ICC of bias, he said, "It's because of the colour of our skin. If we were white, there wouldn't be so much scrutiny. Shane Warne is still playing, as is Herschelle Gibbs."
When asked about his appeal to the Supreme Court to lift the life-ban imposed by the Justice Malik Qayyum committee, Malik said, "What can I say? The court is not willing to give any date for a hearing. To be honest I have given up all hope that I would ever be cleared of this allegation."
He spoke about his plight and fading hopes of detaching the stigma from his name. "As it is, what damage had to be done has been done to me and my family. I have suffered a lot ... The matchfixing allegations completely destroyed me and I could not perform in the middle after that at all. In the middle of the 1999 World Cup I had to attend court hearings. It was humiliation of the worst kind. I was harassed, shot, slapped, slaughtered in public by my board, the ICC and also the media."
Malik also denied rumours about him wanting to migrate to some other country after being banned for life. "Where will I go from here? This is my country and this is the only place where they are people who still believe I am innocent and support me."