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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Match fixing may be Pakistani style politics, it is not cricket, for sure.....

Pakistan cricket team’s (un)professional conduct has again been called to question, this time involving the criminal aspect of it when Scotland Yard (British Police) had to raid their hotel after arresting an accomplice in the crime. And the conduct was so blatantly criminal that even a five-year’s old lad, after watching their innings, could tell that the team had sold its soul to the devil. The exact amount of quid pro quo for playing engineered defeat was not immediately known but the amount of 150,000 pounds (approximately Rs. 20 million) paid by the tabloid to reach the clue is a sufficient evidence of the actual amount involved in the crime. Pakistan cricket touches lowest ebb with latest match fixing claims is what Daily Telegraph had to say about the incident.

Some say it was not crime for them because illegal money is a style of Pakistani politics. Following the footsteps of Taliban and Pakistan’s political leaders, the cricketers have also made Pakistan not proud but had it mentioned all over the media, this time again for wrong reasons. The politicians, Talibani mullahs and now cricketers have successfully made all 170 million Pakistanis look like thugs in the eyes of the world. The paper goes on to say that the embattled national team was embroiled in allegations of match-fixing on Sunday after British police arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers. The controversy erupted after the News of the World alleged some members of the Pakistan team were involved in a betting scam in the ongoing fourth and final Test against England at Lord's. The scandal is the latest controversy to hit Pakistan cricket which has been left in virtual isolation as fears of Al-Qaeda and Taliban attacks keep foreign teams from touring the troubled South Asian country. No international teams have toured since a brazen militant attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team's bus in March last year, which meant huge financial losses for Pakistan and fears that interest in the sport will start to wane among the youth. And the latest match-fixing allegations could be the final straw.

"Pakistan cricket has seen every possible mishap, but allegations of spot-fixing is one of the greatest mishaps and it remains to be seen how our cricket comes out of it," said former spinner and ex-chief selector Iqbal Qasim. But match-fixing is not new in Pakistan cricket. Allegations go as far back as 1979-1980 when Pakistan were accused of throwing matches on their tour of India. Pakistani players were also accused of throwing their semi-final against Australia in the 1987 World Cup. Those allegations remain unsubstantiated.

But charges naming individual players surfaced in 1994 when Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh accused then Pakistan captain Salim Malik of offering them bribes to under-perform during Australia's tour to Pakistan.The serious allegations forced the Pakistani government to launch a judicial inquiry under high court judge Justice Malik Qayyum. The two-year inquiry banned Malik and paceman Ata-ur Rehman for life and fined six top players - Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis (current team coach), Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Akram Raza. Pakistan cricket never recovered from that serious jolt.

The team were also accused of throwing their World Cup 1999 match against Bangladesh and although another inquiry cleared the players of any wrongdoing, the seeds of doubt were sown. Thereafter Pakistan cricket was dogged by suspicion. If they won, opponents levelled ball-tampering allegations, and charges of a "fix" followed every loss. But despite all the problems, Pakistan cricket keeps producing world-class talent. Barely three months after the attack on the Sri Lankans, Pakistan clinched the World Twenty20 in England, bringing a rare moment of joy to a people hit by economic and security fears. But Pakistan's tour to Australia which ended in February this year brought further grief with seven players accused of indiscipline.
The winless tour and discipline breaches prompted the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to ban former captains Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf for an indefinite period after an inquiry in March.

Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan were banned for one year, while Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal and Umar Akmal were heavily fined. Barely three months later, bans on Yousuf and Younus were overturned and fines were halved - a decision which was mocked at international level. But the PCB failed to act on serious allegations of match-fixing levelled by former coach Intikhab Alam and his assistant Aaqib Javed. "It was because of the players' power that exists in Pakistan cricket that the PCB did not take action against the alleged players and the situation has come to a head in England," said Mohammad Ali Shah, sports minister of Sindh province. "We need to educate our players, the management should be strong. It is time we take serious actions, including the sacking of current management, to save our cricket," said Shah.

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