“Mark Waugh is an Aussie. He wears a baggy cap.
And when he saw the bookie’s cash he said ‘I’m having that.
He shared it out with Warnie. They went and had some beers.
And when the ACB found out. They covered it up for years.”
So sing England’s Barmy Army at former cricketer Mark Waugh who not only provided “John the bookmaker” information “about 10 times” by his own admission, but also introduced teammate Shane Warne to the same bookie.
Knowing these facts the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) felt it was sufficient to fine the two cricketers $10,000 and $8,000 each after a secret investigation and cover the matter up. We know these facts thanks to Journalist Malcom Conn who had heard the rumors and followed it up to break the story years later.
In contrast to the ACB, the PCB has to be commended on the way it handled the initial news of the PSL fixing allegations. The PSL chairman Najam Sethi was in front of the camera being interviewed by Alan Wilkins during the innings break of a match to address the matter straight forward, notwithstanding the fact that it was early in the season with only one match having been completed. It would have been so easy to maintain silence fearing reputation damage to the nascent league. Indian audiences would have definitely appreciated his straight talking which was in stark contrast to the day the IPL fixing controversy surfaced when they watched in disbelief as the commentators failed to utter a word on the issue on the official channel. In this regard the PCB is off to a great start but there is more that can be done to safeguard the game and deter corruption.
The PCB should consider pursuing the proceeds of corruption. This would mean they should write into player contracts that any money they pay the players is subject to return if the player is convicted of corruption. This should deter the players from damaging the trust in the game and profiting from it. They can take the lead from the US where it has now been ruled that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong can be sued by his former team sponsor the US postal service for treble damages amounting to $100 million for cheating and reputation damage being associated with him. Whatever the outcome of the trial, it has set a good precedent for all sporting bodies worldwide.
Another deterrent which makes complete sense is life bans. Would any young cricketer risk his career to cheat the game? There is the point of view that life bans would not discourage older players approaching the end of their careers. To combat this, life bans should include a life time exclusion from all cricket related activities including coaching, broadcast commentary and administrative involvement including at a local club level. The PCB must dig out the Justice Qayyum report and hand life bans to any former player or administrator criticized in it for questionable behavior.
The PSL fixing scandal has seen an almost daily running commentary by the Pakistani media who have feasted upon facts of the case leaked to them. The leaks have included the ACU’s initial break, the charges laid against and the responses of the players, intricate details of the nature of the evidence and timelines of the PCB’s hearing process. The leaks feed the media circus which typically tends to assume players guilty and puts the PCB’s due process into disrepute which naturally assumes innocence and provisionally suspends players until proven guilty at a hearing.
While we often are familiar with players convicted of corruption, we very rarely hear of the bookies involved in corrupting them. The PCB must publicly name any person involved in corrupt approaches to players and should liaise with law enforcement to bring the bookies to book. The advantage of publicly publishing approaches is that lower grade cricketers can learn from it to guard against corrupt individuals and their methods of approaching.
As the PCB seeks to bring international cricket and the successful PSL back to Pakistan, it is imperative to ensure a clean sport as sponsors and spectators alike will want to be associated with a game that is played in the right spirit. Cricket back in Pakistan means the welcome return of much needed cash injection to invest in cricket and grow the game once again. If the PCB are able to implement these measures it can truly be the world leader in anti-corruption efforts.