Pakistani cricket started to include players from across the nation rather than Lahore and Karachi properly after the 1978-79 series which they won against India. That win was probably a harbinger of sorts for change to be brought in Pakistani cricket. It was a sign of democracy in Pakistani cricket and has since then remained in whatever form. Asif, Aamir and Salman Butt – three of those implicated in this scandal are a sign of the democratisation of Pakistani cricket. They are from Sheikupura, Gujjar Khan and Lahore respectively.
Recently News of the World conducted a sting operation where wads of currency notes were found in Salman Butt’s room and he along with the two others have been accused of spot fixing that is fixing certain parts of the match – like Asif, Aamir bowling no – balls in the Lord’s test etc. With time there have been other revelations like Kamran Akamal being involved, Yasir Hameed being asked to throw matches and his allegation that every Pakistani player fixes matches and also off late a Sri Lankan player being involved too. Then after this the Australians and the Bangladeshi players came out in the open of advances by suspicious individuals over the last couple of years.
It’s plain and simple. Cricket is facing its biggest crisis after the Hansie Cronje scandal, 10 years back. I have discussed certain facts below which everyone won’t discuss and instead just blame the cricketers –
1. For Pakistani cricketers who are coming from villages and other poor parts of the country, the excessive riches offered by the IPL and also a fancy lifestyle, extravagant cars, girls everything is like a heaven of sorts. Aamir could have become a casualty of such a scenario too. Our Indian players though also have started to come for villages and small towns have got the advantage of endorsements, educated careers or previous jobs which may not exactly be the case with Pakistanis
2. According to Geoff Lawson, former coach of Pakistan, the problem of terrorism has reached the cricketing world in Pakistan. Many players have been threatened by the so – called individuals for such purposes.
3. Like in India, in Pakistan stardom, heroic status, idol worship is rampant. And this is one more reason which has made cricketers like Asif and Aamir take the leap. They are regarded as heroes in a nation bereft of many not only in cricket but also in other fields too.
But then this scandal could have damaging effects across the cricketing world forever. The fact that these cricketers have come from poor and uneducated backgrounds shouldn’t be a criteria to treat them leniently.
1. People who watch the game as well as lovers of the game – be it the players, officials, general audience everyone has been shocked beyond disbelief at listening to Aamir and Asif being involved in fixing. The way these two combined to rip apart Australia and England many a time this summer now becomes a complete joke and it seems like the normal public has been taken for a ride.
2. Pakistani players may not be that rich but their pay cheque – 250,000 rupees (£1,900), 175,000 rupees and 100,000 rupees per month in the three grades of the PCB’s central contracts is not peanuts. Add on match fees – roughly the same again as the monthly retainer – and on‑tour fees, board and personal endorsements, salaries from their first-class sides (which are run by organisations such as banks, airlines and power companies, offering the option of a stable, secure job after retirement), deals with counties and league clubs and now Twenty20 domestic sides, and most elite players really are kings of this land.
And now from this you would regard them as the kings of the country. Not all may get endorsed or get salaries from first class sides, but then 1,00,000 rupees for the lowest contract by PCB is not bad at all for a land where more than 70% are below poverty line.
3. The fact that the captain of the team, Salman Butt who is somewhat of an odd one out in this team by virtue of being sufficiently well educated and having a good background is involved in this scandal is even more shocking and saddening.
4. Placing bets and gambling especially in cricket in the subcontinent particularly India and Pakistan is a ground where people can make a killing of money. There are people who don’t work and only earn money by doing this.
5. This sometimes make me wonder something which my parents told “Are you going to forget your ideals when you see the money?” Dangerously and sadly today’s cricketers are moving towards that level and that too really fast.
Today, confidence in cricket is at rock bottom. There are thousands of questions and hundreds of people to blame including PCB for pushing this matter under the carpet and ICC for not removing corruption from the game in a proper manner. Questions remain as to
– Who all are involved?
– Did they really fix matches?
– Since when have they been fixing games?
– Can it be stopped ever?
Can confidence be brought back into world cricket or for that matter Pakistani cricket? I can just hope and pray so for that to happen!