Pakistan cricket’s mortified face?
We are not
to blame; the world is against us!
The slapstick satirists are waltzing to the funeral tune of the Pakistani cricket. The exaggerated egos of humbugs continue to lower the Pakistaniness in its grave. It is simply shambolic. I do not understand that why couldn’t someone from the PCB have the tenacity to point out the ICC that ill-famed Mazhar Majeed in his alibi had committed about Pakistan-Australia Test at Sydney being fixed and also he had retorted having made approximately £850,000? Yasir Hameed’s inadvertently made claims suggested that the Pakistan cricketers had picked-up about £1.8m.
And interestingly, it is with evidence that the ICC had given the clean chit rubbishing the match-fixing allegations. Why couldn’t the PCB refer to this brazen dichotomy? Is ICC a toothless body or are they only interested stepping in when the field is set for them? I angrily admit to another nonchalant miss by Ijaz Butt and Yawar Saeed; the Anti Corruption Unit of the ICC exhausts at least a couple of million dollars in beefing up the security whenever an international series is staged and also they try making things water-tight. There are pointers that Mazhar Majeed was on their ‘watchdog’ list? Now we also hear leaks from India that their One-day International match versus Sri Lanka last December was also suggestively fixed? Why did Ricky Ponting bat first at Headingley against Pakistan under a rain-laden sky and the pitch promising enormous lateral moment? Why did England dramatically collapse at The Oval? Hypothetical admissions of a conspiring mind it may well seem, but it could have some rationality keeping in view the recent developments? Why should Pakistan as a country berated and why should the other teams be ungrammatically considered as angels?
Why didn’t the ICC readily inform the PCB tour management or the board itself about their players interacting with a shadowy character?
He being an agent does not absolve management from a hysterical slip-up. I am not here to try proving Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir’s innocence, they as the sequence of events delineate have certainly been on the wrong end of incorruptibility and slurping with greed; if proven guilty they should find their cadavers hanging in thin air; and this isn’t a misconstrued patriotism; this is about tampering with cricket’s moral worth.
By all accounts, corruption seems to be spiralling downward across the nation. There is, however, another facet to this story that is getting enormous media attention; cricket corruption and abuse appear to be at an all time high, not only restricted to Pakistan?
While a distraught Salman Butt, flanked by a morose Yawar Saeed droned through feeble and specious explanations in face of piercing queries, thrown at him by the ever zealous press, the cricket world held its breath in anguish for the Titanic had hit the tip of the ice berg — yet again!
The tip has continued to swell ever since, with the plot thickening by the minute, with the swelling of public outrage coinciding with shrinking of patience on part of international watchdogs; the cup of Pakistan Cricket’s iniquity seems to be full, threatening to spill over any moment!
For a country which staged an epic transition from March 3rd, 2009 mourning to gala celebrations of a T20 World Cup victory within a few months; for a cricketing nation which saw it’s once bustling stadia get reduced to ghost houses still continued to add pizzazz to the game world over; for a sporting side with wherewithal to bounce back spectacularly from a massive rout to miss a spot in the finale of the biggest spectacle (T20 World Cup 2010) by the skin of its teeth; for a china shop to be still able to display lavish gems despite bulls running amok for couple of years — this latest scandal may prove to be the straw which broke the camel’s back. That the clan of jesters led by the Teflon Ijaz Butt had wrecked the chariot of Cricket is well known and well lamented; but this mortifying controversy may seal its fate, forever!
Controversy, usually, is the first cousin of glamour; but in Pakistan it has become its mother. Not long ago unbridled exuberance and prodigal talent were the hallmarks of our product; when we were magnificently enigmatic and endearingly unpredictable. Now we are predictably controversial and only spasmodically brilliant — that too with purportedly some hidden hands pulling the strings. From being a peculiarly endearing aspect of our game, controversy has now become our lifeline. The only way we can hog the headlines and capture the limelight is through making a fool of ourselves.
The match fixing scandal is monstrous; it entails devastating consequences for our cricket; its ramifications are far reaching and potentially fatal for our national pride; we may get summarily denounced as cheats and conmen and get quarantined by the irate and enraged international community not sinless prophets themselves?.
The magnitude of the controversy is monumental, the implications dire, yet, all of it was quite inevitable!
A man like Ijaz Butt cannot be a leader; genius never flows from the womb of nepotism; cronyism and hypocrisy can never compensate for acumen and nous; greatness never thrusts itself upon perennial dissimulators. Pakistan Cricket, to its sheer misfortune finds the most venal and ineffectual hands the helm, just when it is being tossed about in the raging ocean of controversies.
Institutional integrity and esprit de corps can be restored within a short span of time to revive the glorious age of our cricket, but hands behind the tiller need to be replaced. The parchment may remain the same, so may the inkpot and the pen, only the writer needs to change. The tools have revolted against the atrocious workman; they await the advent of a master technician.
Cricket is the veritable symbol of our national pride. It is our most cherished and most recognized national product. It is the steam valve which regulates the often volatile temperament of our nation. It is a monument of national unity and cohesion. It is a touch stone of national pride and patriotism; it is the engine propelling the forward march of our nation. Our hearts soar or sink with the slightest swivel of the ball and minutest flash of the blade, the flutter of our national flag chimes in with the swagger of our players on the field.
This very vital base of our national pride is being trampled over by white elephants.
The loss of pride costs are anyone’s guess. I personally believe that more than the cricketers’ part of a corrupted society, the PCB failures shouldn’t often be viewed as a victimless crime because the victim is the dignity of Pakistan?
Sydney Test has come under the match-fixing spotlight!
The specialists tell me that India accounts for some seventy five to eighty percent of the betting that occurs around the world. All of which is illegal. I believe, the recent sting operation that occurred in England could well have been encouraged by the English bookmakers.
Perhaps those that have been hurt by some of the funny bets laid off in England by various touts owned by Indian bookmakers. All of which are illegal. Fifteen or twenty relatively small bets spread all over England may not affect the overall odds but could cause losses of some one or two million pounds. Needless to say this is serious money for businesses that are operated legally and pay due taxes. This could occur consistently when cricket is being played internationally to finally snap the proverbial camels back and they decided to stop the rot.
Pakistan had been in the news for ‘strange results’ since their tours of Sri Lanka and Australia before coming to England. Coupled with their management doing their studied best to avoid any action, it became a soft target. It is a sad fact that Pakistan cricket management and Pakistan players have been most responsible for damning their own boys as corrupt. Mr Majid Khan as CEO of the PCB, Rashid Latif and now Yasir Hameed are just three examples. In none of the cases was any consistent visible corrective action taken. The British police have released the players with no charges as the evidence is probably not “beyond any reasonable doubt”. I can say without any fear of contradiction that in some other countries the individuals could have been charged and found guilty on the evidence available. Let me recall once again that one single Judge without the formality of a trial, charged and found players guilty and awarded punishments of various grades. On the other hand all the evidence available in the world is not enough to find our government servants, military personnel or politicians guilty of corruption.
The perception is that it’s not the quality of guilt that is relevant but the quality of your influence that is the deciding factor.
Is it not a matter of great amazement that most of the illegal betting is of Indian origin. Most of the illegal bookmakers apparently work out of Mumbai and the Indian underworld is the most connected with all this and yet when the IPL gets mentioned with reference to match-fixing, illegal betting and other linked criminal activities, the matter seems to die off so very quickly. Amazingly the ICC does not even take official notice of it; could it be because the BCCI acted quickly and efficiently to remove the top man and thus not allow the media any grounds to create more news? Could it be that the Indian media takes more care to protect the reputation of India? Could it be a matter of influence of money?
Why should we bend over backwards to protect a player or players who at a minimum behaved most unprofessionally, consorted with individuals the PCB had ostensibly warned them against thus exposing themselves. The line adopted, that they are all innocent until proven guilty, that they are young and not worldly, that they are just led astray or that they live in an atmosphere of corruption has been done to death. One ex-PCB Chairman says that they come from humble back grounds and thus get led astray is the most demeaning. We have a much larger proportion of honest persons in the general public than with some of our upper classes. It is certainly no absolute shame to a country where the odd player or some players become corrupt on the other hand it is truly shameful for the country’s High Commissioner to almost take over as
acting chairman of the board to start finding fault with the ICC and finding involvement of other countries as a conspiracy. More so, when facts as they come to light, require many double takes. People may well ask, just who is being protected? How far up the ladder does this rot go that it requires such drastic action?
It is fearful not to realise that the ICC is a club. The rules of the club are made by its full and to some extent associate members. By and large your standing with the members will assist you in going through difficult situations which befall all of us at one time or another. It is not a country. nor a business and thus only subject to majority actions. Regularly taking it on is counter productive. Sadly our public relations with this body are not great. We have no special friends any more. The ACC which was a power base is no longer one for self inflicted reasons that one shall not recount. We recently annoyed the Australians when for no earthly reason we voted against their ex-Prime Minister for the next Presidency of the ICC. India obviously wants to remain the big boy in the near and far east, and they have the financial power to keep Bangladesh and to some extent Sri Lanka on their side, why we should have joined that bandwagon when we have had no quid pro quo from India in recent times does make me wonder if the chairman of the PCB lives in the real world.
Finally let me stress that no matter what anybody says these days ball-tampering, spot-fixing, or match-fixing is all cheating as per the present rules of the ICC. They could one or all be used to affect the existing odds available for betting to the advantage of any one who has advance knowledge. This knowledge cannot be arranged without the connivance of some or a majority of the players. It becomes a crime if the police can connect a player to having received marked monies and a suspect incident. In the recent events it appears that there could be other valid reasons why the marked monies could have been received from the very suspect individual. I can only hope that every body’s back is reasonably covered so that fresh evidence does not change this situation, because that would be most damaging for all concerned.
What are you doing, Ijaz Butt?
It is a question, that for now, only French club AJ Auxerre can answer. For the onlookers though, AC Milan struggled for a good part of their Champions League match on Wednesday before some individual brilliance from their new marquee signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally undid Auxerre.
But Milan’s performance surely was delightful. Ibrahimovic’s second goal was made by an effervescent Ronaldinho who has seemingly put his problems behind and looks to be flourishing on the pitch.
Ibrahimovic adroitly placed the ball into the bottom-right corner following Ronaldinho’s deft pass. It was a goal that looked like being made in Barcelona and executed in Milan. Even though they never played together at the Catalan club, the goal was almost a carbon copy of one that Samuel Eto’o scored in the Champions League almost three years ago — and that too was made by Ronaldinho. So can the two former Barca boys take Milan back to their glory days?
Traditionally, Milan have never been in Serie A what they are in the Champions League. The seven-time winners are only two titles behind Spanish giants Real Madrid in the European Cup count and they are usually more fired up for their Champions League games rather than their Serie A games. And their performance on Wednesday night was quite reminiscent of those they gave during their Champions League title winning runs in 2003 and 2007.
While Ronaldinho showed flashes of his former self during some parts of last season, he gave a tremendous performance against Auxerre — single-handedly carrying Milan forward. The rip-roaring pace that he had lost over previous years just seemed to return and it looked like it was the Ronaldinho that had delighted crowds during his time at the Nou Camp.
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, showed just why he is regarded as one of Europe’s top marksman. Although he struggled at Barcelona last season, predominantly because of the Catalans’ philosophy of playing the game as a unit, he will get more of a chance to express himself at Milan — similar to the way he played at their arch-rivals Inter Milan before joining Barca. He showed great character to give an absolutely dazzling performance after missing a penalty against Cesena at the weekend in a match Milan lost 2-0.
Deadline-day signing Robinho adds another bit of flair to the Milan ammunition and add to that the exquisite talent of Alexandre Pato, it looks like one of Europe’s most formidable attacks. Another new signing Kevin-Prince Boateng too has not disappointed and so far, all of Milan’s off-season acquisitions have looked good.
Star midfielder Andrea Pirlo said before the start of the season that Milan owner, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has regained his love for football and he would certainly have loved Milan’s performance against Auxerre.
Berlusconi, who had seemingly lost his interest in AC Milan, gave a huge boost to both fans and players alike by wrapping up deals for both Ibrahimovic and Robinho in two days before the close of the transfer window. He had earlier said that Milan would not be involved in any such high-profile transfer activity.
Now it would be up to new coach Massimo Allegri as to how he makes the team click in a positive way.
There is no shortage of experience in their ranks with the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Gennaro Gatusso, Massimo Ambrosini, Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf, Gianluca Zambrotta and Pirlo still good enough to for one last shot at glory.
Milan is a club that in its history has usually defied the odds and kept on a winning tradition throughout. They had been touted as being too old when they won the Champions League title in 2007 with an aging Paolo Maldini as captain. Fresh blood was being called for and Ibrahimovic and Robinho have certainly provided that. The departure of ace midfielder Kaka at the start of last season left a certain feeling that Milan would not be able to bounce back.
On evidence of their performance against Auxerre though, they look good enough. Champions League games against a revamped Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho in the coming weeks, however, would give a clearer indication of whether or not Milan are back to their mighty best!
Can Ronaldinho (left) and Ibrahimovic inspire Milan back to their glory days?