Glued as we have all been to television watching on it, frightening pictures that have a surreal quality, there has been no time to watch sports and when I did turn on the television to watch the One-day International between South Africa and Zimbabwe, I felt almost guilty. With so many earth-shattering events taking place, how could one be watching cricket?

Yet nothing has contributed more to the perception of a return to normalcy in New York than the re-commencement of baseball. The New Yorker can relate to baseball at a most basic level as a manifestation of the American way of life. The terrorist acts on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were horrific acts but the sooner the world get back to the routine and mundane, the better.

The news that the SAF Games have been postponed has come as yet another blow following, as the decision does, the cancellation of New Zealand's tour of Pakistan. That there is a great deal of uncertainty in the region cannot be doubted. But by cancelling sports events, are we not contributing to the uncertainty?

Australia and West Indies had refused to play in Colombo in the 1996 World Cup as they feared for the security of their players because of the general atmosphere created by the Tamil Tigers. To prove them wrong, a joint India-Pakistan team played an exhibition match in Colombo.

The world has always been an unsafe place and one must not forget that terrorist groups of all hues and colours, espousing different causes have been active. I readily accept that this time it is a bit different and it is feared that whole region may get destabilised. But until that happens, I don't think we should disrupt our daily lives. The cancellations add to the despair, if not the panic.

South Africa showed no mercy to Zimbabwe as the batsmen went on a runspree to amass 363. South Africa demonstrated that it is a power-house particularly against a bowling attack that at the best of times is modest but on this particular occasion was so wayward that one felt that they were giving hitting practice to the South African batsmen. They forgot the most elementary of rules that in the one-day game, the bowler should bowl only one line and not be all over the place.

The more I see Herschelle Gibbs, the more I tend to agree with Wasim Bari who compares him with Gordon Greenidge. I think Greenidge was more compact and less adventurous, in that he took less risks, but on song, there wasn't a better batsman to watch with the exception of Viv Richards.

Gibbs is all-systems go, betraying one weakness in that he tends to be expansive when driving and thus food and drink to a bowler like Glenn McGrath. But Gibbs played some stunning shots, none more stunning than a cover-drive that went for six, a flat rather than a high six. Gibbs has had his troubles, his name was linked to that of Hansie Cronje and he was banned. But he seems to have put all that behind him and he gives the impression, either batting or fielding that cricket is a game of inexhaustible joy.

To have him and Jonty Rhodes in the same team gives at least a thirty run advantage plus the hazard they pose to opposing batsmen should they have stealing a single in mind. Though it was a hopelessly onesided match, I enjoyed watching it, if only to avoid the sombre pictures on other channels.

The match-fixing probes that had gripped international cricket for so many months seem to be dying a slow death. As news stories, the probes had run their course. Whether any good has come out of the probes is hard to say and even harder to say whether the game has been cleansed.

It claimed a few scalps, among them Salim Malik, Mohammad Azharuddin and Hansie Cronje with nothing conclusive having been proved against them.

We now have Justice Bhandari looking into allegations that Pakistan's match against Bangladesh was 'fixed' in the 1999 World Cup. The inquiry has made an inauspicious start as witnesses who had volunteered to appear did not do so. But the accusation was made by Ali Bacher and I would have imagined that he should have been the main witness.

Ali Bacher had made a direct accusation, no ifs and buts, and I would recommend that he be summoned to bear testimony and should he refuse to appear than he should be cited for contempt and also the ICC told that the main accuser has backed out. Ali Bacher, while making the accusation, had claimed that he had no first-hand knowledge but had gone on the say-so of Majid Khan.

Majid did not deny that he had told Ali Bacher of his suspicions but also admitted that he had no proof. I hope that Justice Bhandari does not take too long to conclude the inquiry. We should put the matter to rest one way or the other. Punish those if they are guilty or exonerate them if they are not. But should the accusations be proved to be baseless, then the Pakistan team itself should consider bringing defamation charges against the accusers.

Pakistan appears to be at a loose end and there are some reports that the PCB is trying to invite Sri Lanka to play some one-day internationals. But we must make the best of this 'idle' period. We should concentrate on domestic cricket and whip up some support among the cricket public.

A domestic tournament could be organised on regional basis, teams from each of the four provinces with the weaker provinces permitted to 'import' some players from other provinces. I don't see any difficulty in getting sponsors for such a tournament and the matches could be played under lights so that they would attract crowds. There are certain events beyond our control. But we could show some imagination.