This should have been a glowing piece full of love for what we all just witnessed at Lord’s. You eyes should have been taking beautifully crafted words about Abbas, Azhar, Babar, Saifi and Shafiq. Then your brain should have taken over, translating those beautifully crafted words into a surge of emotion and pride.
We should all be talking about one of the great Pakistani Test wins. We should be debating why Pakistan are playing home games in Dubai instead of the UK.
We should be agitated that no one did any push ups or salutes or ran nude through London.
But it’s not, we aren’t and we won’t be.
Because yesterday, as Sohail and Imam were having fun with the English pop gun attack, Al Jazeera took an 18 month investigation and lobbed it into our collective lounge rooms.
It is 54 minutes of compulsory viewing. What is its topic? Spot Fixing in Test match cricket.
Here, watch it >>>
The report nominates a Pakistani, three Sri Lankan players, a curator, three Englishmen and two Australians as being deeply involved.
Assuming that even 50% of this report is accurate, then cricket is infected with its own version of ebola and it has spread globally.
The report nominates the India v England Test of 2016 and the India v Australia Test at Ranchi in 2017 as fixed. Al Jazeera claim that 10 over blocks were manipulated by batsmen to keep the score for that period in a pre-determined range.
Here are the players from those matches that are potentially implicated:
Three of the following:
Two of the following:
In his ground breaking book “Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy” released in 2012, Ed Hawkins uncovered and told the story of how Test spot fixing works. All roads lead to Indians as the instigators and all the money leads to Dubai.
Those that argue that spot fixing isn’t match fixing are misguided. Taking money to lessen the chances of your team winning on its merits, no matter how small the impact, is fixing.
Some will say that it’s not as though the ICC and national boards are asleep at the wheel. For example, Najam Sethi and the PCB installed an ex Army Brigadier to head its anti corruption unit. In Lahore, I witnessed first hand how the youngsters representing Pakistan and junior PSL teams are briefed on the dangers of accepting money to influence games.
However, it took the Indian Supreme Court to step in an override Ravi Shastri’s comically conflicted internal investigation that found no wrong doing in the IPL. That resulted in the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals being banned for two years due to breaches of anti gambling codes. Ironically, the BCCI have also banned Sreesanth for life despite the Indian courts saying he has no case to answer and the BCCI producing no evidence that demonstrates his guilt.
Australians are not immune with Warne and Mark Waugh having taken money in the past. Warne is still a national living treasure and Mark Waugh, up until recently, an official Cricket Australia selector.
No country is immune. Azharuddin, Gibbs, Lou Vincent and Amir all come to mind. There are many more.
But with this latest scandal, do we continue to act with kid gloves in regards to this problem or are we, as cricket fans, truly over this and wanting to demand change? Because the only way to ensure a clean future is to remove the trash and keep our houses clean.
Why is it that we allow former tainted players back into the realm to resume playing careers, to commentate on our screens, to be experts in our newspapers, to be national selectors or coach our children? We have tried this path of forgiveness and it hasn’t worked. It simply encourages the bookies to keep going.
It is this nuance that cricket fans typically miss. We, the collective of worldwide cricket fans, must accept much of the blame. Because, we continue to let great cricketing deeds wash over whatever bad deed has been done. We continue to make excuses for these guys. We allow it to continue. You and me. It is our fault.
And given that we continue to give our permission, the Boards continue to let these players back into the fold. Either as players or officials. The broadcasters continue to hire them as commentators. Corporates continue to hire them as speakers or be brand ambassadors for their products.
When I reiterated my strong stance of banning these players for life from all cricket activity, one kind soul on social media argued with me that some countries use capital punishment and that doesn’t stop the criminals. Well, I’m not suggesting that we legally murder anyone. I’m only suggesting that if you disrespect the game, then go and find another career somewhere else.
The days of blaming youth or socio-economic backgrounds or some other influence need to go. The bleeding hearts who advocate a second chance are only polluting our sport with their stance.
Perhaps it is too late to retrospectively boot out those that are still around despite their past. But going forward, we have the chance to use our united voices and just say no. This scourge has impregnated every country. No match is beyond suspicion and therefore, no player either. And this is all because we were not strong enough in the past.
So do your duty. From now on, speak out against those that continue to make a strong living for your sport despite their contempt for it. Look at them as cheats and not role models. Steer your children towards the true heroes and not the false ones.
Life bans from today onwards. Are you with me?