Just as well that there was no ICC Anti-corruption Unit in the times of David and Goliath. Almost certainly, doubts would be raised and there would be suspicions.
Someone like Ali Bacher might even have come forward to charge that the 'encounter' was fixed. Kenya beat India at Port Elizabeth. It was a bigger upset than Bangladesh beating Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup or Zimbabwe beating South African in the same tournament.
I saw the Kenya-India match on television and Kenya played out of their skins and a depleted Indian team lost to what was the better team on that day. Kenya were without their captain Maurice Odumbe who had been handed a two-game suspension, an unusually harsh punishment. The team was fired up because of this and its resolve showed in the body-language of its players. To insinuate that there was some hankypanky is to take credit away from a great team effort and in the bargain cast aspersions on the integrity of the Indian players.
I think the time has come for cricket to be saved from its redeemers. I also feel that the players need to get some protection from those who make accusations and then fail to come up with any proof.
Justice Karamat is carrying out a judicial inquiry to determine if the Pakistan-Bangladesh match was fixed in the World Cup. The man who made the accusation was Dr Bacher. He was no ordinary, Tom, Dick or Harry. He was the chief executive of the South African Cricket Board. He had no proof and admitted as much, saying that Majid Khan had told him. What he was doing was retailing the suspicions of someone else who in turn said that he had no evidence.
While members of the Pakistan team have appeared before Justice Karamat Bhandari, Bacher has not done so. He represents the main accuser. Bacher should have himself volunteered to do so. It would have been an honourable thing to have done so.
The life ban on Hansie Cronje has been re-affirmed and since he had pleaded guilty and had been caught with the goods, as it were, the life-ban seems justified. Though whether the punishment fits the crime is a matter of some doubt in my mind. His name had been dragged through the mud and he will carry the stigma for the rest of his life and there was no chance of his ever playing for South Africa again, I feel a case existed for tempering mercy with justice.
Punishment is meant to act as a deterrent and not be an act of vengeance on its own. I may be mistaken but I do not recall any of the book-makers who became household names being sent to jail.
Thus we have the anomaly of one party being banned or fined for accepting money from another party but this 'another party' getting off scot-free. The bribe-taker is to be punished. Not the bribe-giver. This is, what I would call, half justice, like the curate's egg, good in parts.
In 1974, when I was manager of the Pakistan team on its tour of England, we had twice evacuated our hotels because of bomb scares. The IRA were then on the rampage and bomb blasts were fairly routine. Not for a moment did we consider calling off the tour. We did not even discuss it the following mornings at breakfast.
There was no satellite television in those days and to the best of my recollection, nothing appeared in the print media about the bomb scares in the hotels where the Pakistan team was lodged.
I write this in the context of the security concerns of the England players due to tour India. As I wrote last week, New Zealand and Sri Lanka could have easily toured Pakistan and with absolute safety. I don't think that the England players will be in any kind of danger because of the events in Afghanistan.
If one was to go entirely by what one sees on BBC and CNN, one would get the impression that the whole region is in turmoil. The pictures we are seeing are selective and angled. There should be no doubts about the tour and the only fears should be about Sachin Tendulkar regaining his form. No such fears have been expressed about the tournament in Sharjah and Pakistan is just as concerned about the safety of its players.
I think England flatter themselves that they constitute a high-profile target. A One-day International was being played in Sri Lanka when Columbo airport was being attacked. Pakistan toured India even when the Shiv Sena had vowed not to let the tour proceed. Though the security was tight, the Pakistan players tell me that they enjoyed the tour.
The ECB will incur a heavy financial loss if the India tour is cancelled. So too will the Indian Cricket Board. Should England's tour be cancelled, the Indian Cricket Board will get an idea of how we felt when India cancelled its tour of Pakistan and then refused to play in the Asian Test Championship, though the reason was not security.
Pakistan had taken quite a financial knock. Although I am in agreement with the ICC plan for neutral venues, there should be compelling reasons for the cancellation of tours and I don't think it should be left to the players. With due respects to them, they are not best informed on all political matters in most cases, they are not informed at all. These decisions should be arrived at on a government to government level.