Is it time to ban Pakistan from cricket?

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 03, 2010 06:13 hrs

When a criminal commits a crime, he is punished. But when authorities consistently ignore or commit a crime thereby nullifying the whole system, then what action is to be taken?

While match fixers have come and gone from various cricketing countries, no nation has made as much of a mockery of the whole issue as has Pakistan.

So the question is: Should the Pakistan cricket team itself be suspended for a limited period in order to nip match-fixing in the bud?

More questions than answers...

When it comes to Pakistan cricket, there are more questions than answers. There are simply too many loose ends.

Did Basit Ali and Rashid Latif retire in the 1990s thanks to the match-fixing lobby? Or were they themselves fixers? How far was captain Salim Malik involved?

Did the 1999 cricket World Cup Pakistan squad have match-fixers? Was Wasim Akram unfairly targeted? Did the match-fixing lobby have a hand in coach Bob Woolmer's sudden death?

Was the Australian tour fixed? (Kamran Akmal's antics were there for all to see.) Was the England tour fixed? The spot-fixing allegations during the tour are the strongest they have been in years.

Then what of the Qayyum Report? Action was recommended against Inzamam-ul-Haq, but he retired as one of Pakistan's most long-serving captains. Action was also recommended against Waqar Younis, but he became their coach.

The PCB have at times denied, mismanaged and skirted the whole issue. They have handed bans out of the blue and lifted them out of the blue. When the Sri Lankan team was attacked by terrorists, PCB chairman Ijaz Butt far from apologising, thundered at the press conference as if he was the aggrieved party.

In the current fiasco, even though millions of people saw the glaring no-balls bowled by the erring fast bowlers, the Pakistan Interior Minister said that it could be a conspiracy against the country and they will not act in haste.

Then, instead of suspending the seven players mentioned outright, they only dropped three – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

And even this, Pakistan's high commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan said, had been a voluntary "pull out" and was prompted by the "mental torture" they have had to undergo.

If the remaining four players aren't also dropped, then how will the England cricket team view them? After tasting a dubious Test series victory (thanks to the match-fixing allegations) do they even feel like going ahead with the ODI series?

Different from other boards

That way, other boards have reacted in a much better manner than the PCB.

The BCCI went ahead and banned four players, even though the evidence was mainly circumstantial.

South African Hansie Cronje was banned for life. Two other players of his country were also handed six-month bans.

Kenya and West Indies banned a player each, even though it has not been that a big issue there.

Shane Warne of Australia was fined immediately after giving pitch information to bookies.

What of Pakistan?

Going by the amount of cricket players that have come under the radar, very few proper investigations have been carried out and very few have been penalized fairly to deter others.

In fact both Salim Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman saw their life bans being overturned even though there wasn't a chance of them playing again.

Is there an ICC anti-corruption unit?

One wonders what the ICC anti-corruption unit is doing in the circumstances.

When the cases of Cronje and M Azharuddin reached a boil, they recommended their ban, but apart from that they have been mainly watching from the sidelines.

In fact, it is probably the Delhi Police that has contributed the most to eradicating match fixing thanks to their breakthrough in the Cronje case in 2000.

One reason why the ICC and some boards have been ineffective is the lack of respected cricketers at the top. Right now, we have Sharad Pawar, more of a politician than a cricket whiz, at the top.

In a perfect world, cricket journalists become commentators and retired players become cricket administrators.

In an imperfect world, cricket journalists become cynics, retired players become commentators and scheming politicians become cricket administrators.

Why isn't Sunil Gavaskar president of the ICC? Why isn't Ravi Shastri head of the BCCI? Why isn't Kapil Dev the Chairman of the IPL?

It's very nice to hear retired players like Ian Chappell give their views on a range of issues. But why is he doing the talking and not the ICC?

Unless the ICC makes this fundamental change and acts, it will hurtle from one disaster to another and match-fixing revelations will keep surfacing.

God save cricket.

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