The Condon report merely confirms what most people already knew that match-fixing is worldwide rather than confined to a specific country or region and the bookies have cast a wide net. Since it has chosen, for whatever reason, not to name individuals, the report has no practical value. If it is meant to create a greater awareness about the evils of match-fixing, the awareness already exists.
What it does not highlight is that countries like Pakistan and India have been in the forefront of investigating match-fixing, while others have been dragging their feet. I don't think we need an Anti- Corruption Unit (ACU) to tell us what makes people corrupt. The answer is simple: human nature. And sadly, even the threat of hell has not acted as a deterrent against Sin.
All the measures recommended which amount to putting players in quarantine will not deter a corrupt player or official for where there's a will, there's a way. I will not go far as to describe the Condon report as a blank cartridge but the fact remains that morality cannot be legislated.
The installation of closed circuit television may have reduced shoplifting but it has not eliminated it. As for bigger crimes like drugsmuggling, the major cities of the 'developed' world are awash with heroin and cocaine despite stringent laws and the threat of horrendous penalties, including capital punishment in some countries. In a world where the pursuit of wealth has become the highest value in the system of values, greed is no longer seen as a social stigma.
For the record, I was, perhaps, the first columnist in Pakistan to recommend the setting up a judicial inquiry into match-fixing. I had argued that the only way to bring to an end the slanging-matches, the accusations and counter-accusations, the character assassinations was to introduce the due process of law and a senior judge should be appointed to hold an inquiry and the report should be made public. But I was not convinced that even this would stop the rumour-mongering.
We have had our Qayyum Report and it did names and acknowledged the existence of match-fixing. This was more than what had been done by other cricket boards. It must be mentioned that the Indian CBI weighed in on its own and not on the urging of the BCCI. Instead of being praised for these efforts, an impression has been created that it is these countries that are the hotbeds of match-fixing and all the bookies are of subcontinent origin.
The Condon report has received a good deal of publicity. It has been generally welcomed but it is not the bombshell it was expected to be. Perhaps, one is supposed to read between the lines. Or there is another version of it, too hot to make public. But I must confess that I am no wiser about match-fixing than I was before I read the report. In a way, it was like reading yesterday's newspaper.
Pakistan, having lost the first Test match have but their backs against the wall in this two-Test series. It will take some doing to level the series. There is the usual speculation about how the Old Trafford wicket will play and there is talk that it will take spin.
The person who knows the most about Old Trafford is Wasim Akram. He played for Lancashire for nearly ten years and should be familiar with every blade of grass. I would suggest to the Pakistan think-tank they utilise this knowledge. There is general agreement that Pakistan erred grievously in playing five seamers at Lord's and left out Saqlian Mushtaq. There have been some half-hearted attempts to justify this by the tour selection committee.
Pakistan need to get it right but not by relying on hearsay or by such signals that may emanate from the selection of the English team. Pakistan has in its camp, players who have experience of playing conditions in England at this unholy time of the year. I would suggest that they rely on themselves.
Pakistan must select the team capable of winning the Test match for no other result is of any consequence. It must have bowling to get England out twice and must have the batting to put on a decent score.
The top order must click and we shouldn't be seen to be experimenting with a make-shift opener and I have read that Abdur Razzaq is being tipped to open the innings. Why make such a high quality middle order batsman a sacrificial lamb? Pakistan had Mohammad Wasim and he has been used as an opener in Tests. He seems the best option.
Room will also have to be found for Faisal Iqbal. It is always good strategy to play an in-form batsman. Runs is runs even against a lesser opposition. But the key lies in Pakistan playing as a team. This they did not do at Lord's. That's the impression we got. I don't wish to be melodramatic but when a team loses, the pain should be visible on the faces of the players.
Waqar Younis needs to bring an element of inspiration to his captaincy and he must be seen to be talking to his bowlers constantly, discussing field-changes and generally encouraging them. The bodylanguage of the players should be positive. As Imran Khan used to tell his team during the 1992 World Cup: "When you take the field, look like winners".
Cricket, as I wrote last week, is a mind game and it must get to the opposition that you mean business. And memories of the Lord's Test should be erased from the minds though not its lessons. As the saying goes, making a mistake is not a crime but not learning from the mistakes is! I trust that the Lord's Test has been analysed thoroughly and the bowlers, in particular, now know what they did wrong. But Old Trafford is famous for rain. That too would suit England. But then, it is possible that the weather may turn out fine. And that would be a good omen for Pakistan.