Book and ban

Pakistan cricket has been criminalised. The flight of wicket-keeper Zulkarnain Haidar from Dubai to London after his family or he received life-threatening phone calls because he did not cooperate with match-fixers has exposed the menacing and sinister side of Pakistan cricket. After the spot-fixing allegations during Pakistan’s disastrous tour of England, Haidar’s singularly brave — though some would characterise it a foolish — act has demonstrated that it is not just a sniff of something in the air. The cancer of corruption in Pakistani society has penetrated the country’s cricket team whose players have long been suspected of fixing and throwing matches. That cancer must be terminated lest it spreads to other teams that play cricket, a game which has already been devalued for precisely the reason why Haidar quit international cricket and sought asylum in England.

After allegations of spot-fixing against three Pakistani cricketers surfaced in England, the country’s rambunctious news channels analysed the controversy, finding that rampant corruption and the susceptibility of cricketers from humble backgrounds to the lure of big, but tainted, money as the primary reasons that contribute to criminal greed. The tumult caused then and now, both on and off the field, could justifiably be seen as a reflection of Pakistani society itself. There are reports of groupism and infighting within the team. The chairman of the team, who is arbitrarily appointed by the Pakistan president, enjoys unfettered powers which cause dysfunctionality that in turn leads to unpredictable performance by players who are capable both of bursts of brilliance and sinking to abysmal lows. A vain management has, time and again, failed to enforce discipline. All of these factors have caused Pakistan cricket’s decay.

Haidar’s fears — not made up or imagined — suggest that cheating is deep seated in the cricket team and the management which has often brushed aside match-tampering allegations by offering specious arguments. Many in Pakistan have suggested a long-term cure: ban the team from playing international cricket. The International Cricket Council might like to seriously consider using a ban as an enema to cleanse Pakistan cricket of the unremitting avarice that almost every player on the team and the management is neck deep in. The Haidar expose has dealt a body blow to cricket which cannot be allowed anymore to be tarnished by a villainous gang.

Comments (+)