September 3rd, 2010 by Ravi Matah | Posted in News, Sports   No Comments »
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Pakistani players Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir had been summoned to London by Scotland Yard in connection with the no-ball controversy that has erupted during the current England – Pakistan series. They have been interrogated at length and the Pakistan Cricket Board says it will not take any action upon the reports of the media. nor upon the sting operation,  but is awaiting the investigation report from the Scotland Yard. 

The news is absolutely shocking for the fans of Cricket. Why, such a thing happened, was the question in everyone’s mind. Is it endless greed for money at this age? These things were unheard of, a predetermined no-ball in between a devastating spell during the 4th Test, which the Lords has ever witnessed. Shocking, is the word and rape of Cricket would be no exaggeration either. 

News of the World, revealed in a sting operation with an alleged British fixer Mazhar Majeed, that they paid him 150,000 pounds for spot-fixing, which the Pakistan  government does not accept. It has re-iterated its stand that the players are innocent and there is a political motivation behind this scandal even though the charges of corruption against members of their cricket team have become a national embarrassment. 

Three no-balls were sent down deliberately on pre-deterrmined orders, one from Mohammad Asif and two from Mohammad Amir. And that too has happened in the Mecca of cricket? The evidence is clear as the no-balls were huge, with the forward-foot at least one foot ahead of the popping crease. 

Mohd. Asif is no stranger to controversy. He was held at Dubai airport when he was caught in possession of objectionable white-powder in his pocket. 

Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said the government will take strong action against the cricketers found involved in spot-fixing. The interior minister expressed his disappointment over the incident but cautioned that “it would not be appropriate to propagate against the Pakistani team unless everything is probed” and added that this incident was politically motivated. 

Scotland Yard has already met with four Pakistani cricketers, including Butt, on Saturday night at their London hotel as a consequence of these revelations. The expose also showed Majeed passing a jacket with 10,000 pounds in it to two Pakistani cricketers. 

The evidence provided by that sting operation is now being examined by the UK police. Media reports suggest that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has been watching for months some of the Pakistani cricketers who feature in the current controversy. The Anti-Corruption Unit of the ICC will share this report with the Pakistani team of investigators deputed to England.  Part of the report allegedly focuses on Pakistan’s tour to Australia in January – the Sydney Test saw a surprise defeat for Pakistan after a series of dropped catches. 

Also, Salman Butt was doing a good job as Pakistan Captain and his name being linked to such a huge controversy is shocking. However, Akmal will be scanned right and proper as his four dropped catches in Sydney are reverberating again. 

What is the solution left with the ICC? If they cancel the ODIs, England Board for Cricket is set to lose Pounds 20 million in TV revenue in broadcast rights alone and if it pressurises Pakistan further than necessary, they upset the balance of power of Cricket in Asia as India would have stronger control over Cricket. And this time around, ICC have to take a deterrent action to serve as a lesson for others. 

Senior players for England have expressed their reluctance to continue with the series – they want Butt as well as Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamir to be dropped by Pakistan. Why do Pakistan players always do something or the other to bring disrepute to their country, spoil the name of cricket and annoy their fans? The attack on Sri Lankan players outside the Gaddaffi stadium has totally damaged the reputation of Pakistan as a safe cricket playing venue in the world. 

The ball now seems to be firmly in the ICC’s court to ensure a speedy end to this controversy. There is considerable pressure on the ICC to exhibit a “zero-tolerance approach” while dealing with the Pakistani players involved in the match-fixing row and has the powers to impose a life ban on these cricketers, if found guilty. 

This controversy has destroyed the basic fabric of Pakistan’s cricketing credibility. Whatever be the outcome of the ICC investigation report, the Pakistan Cricket has been tainted forever and will remain so in the eyes of the cricketing world. Firstly, they can’t play international Cricket in their own country as no other team is willing to go and play in Pakistan and, secondly, if they are invited to another country, this is what they do. 

Pakistan has two Twenty20 games in Cardiff followed by five one-day internationals against England. 

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke said that he was looking forward to an extremely competitive series, full of excellent Cricket. Does he have an option?

Ravi Matah.

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