The game of shame  

The game of shame   

There is never a dull moment in Pakistan cricket. Pakistan cricket just loves to be in the limelight, whether they are Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) high officials or our star cricketers, they just know the art to remain in news for all the wrong reasons. The latest fixing saga in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the United Arab Emirates: suspension of Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, questioning of Mohammad Irfan, Zulfiqar Babar and Shahzaib Hasan by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) anti-corruption unit, and arrest of Nasir Jamshed in London along with an alleged bookie by police, though later they were released on bail till April this year, have stunned all. Jamshed, who made the last of 68 appearances for Pakistan across all three formats nearly two years ago, is not taking part in the PSL. The entire cricketing fraternity has

been shattered by allegations of fixing which has tarnished the reputation of Pakistan cricket.

After what Pakistan cricket went through in 1990s, 2000s and 2010, the involvement of a couple of players in spot-fixing to taint the image of the country, once again, is just beyond one’s comprehension. This is really embarrassing and extremely painful. It clearly shows that fixing has deep roots in Pakistan cricket and can not be eliminated completely. Despite earning a lot of money, our players’ vulnerability has put a big question mark on Pakistan cricket and how it is being run. It seems that our players have not learned the lesson, and they always will be vulnerable when there is big money involved; greed is instinctive. It is very unfortunate that another set of emerging and talented players have bitten the dust.

Pakistan cricket has been rocked by fixing scandals over the past several years. Former captain Salim Malik and Ataur Rehman were banned for life after an investigation in 2000. Malik was punished for offering Australian trio Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh a bribe to underperform during their visit to Pakistan in 1995. In 2010 then Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were jailed and banned for five years for spot-fixing while leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was banned for life in a spot-fixing case in 2012.

What hurts more that after earning back the respect, which we lost in England in 2010, through hectic efforts of the PCB and Misbahul Haq, the spectre of fixing has reared its ugly head again, this time in the cash-rich PSL. That the PSL was always susceptible to fixing goes without saying. Perhaps, for once, the sharp vigilance of the PCB’s anti-corruption unit paid off, though valid queries are even now being made about the opportunities for players to move out of their domain and interact with the bookmaking mafia.

The disgraceful action, at the game’s expense, has given a message to the world that Pakistani athletes are cheats and can be ‘purchased’. With more and more players being dragged into this quicksand of betting and corruption, we can only hope that any seniors are not involved in this horrendous scandal. The PCB has to announce stringent measures to weed out corrupt elements from domestic cricket — where it all usually begins — and put in place a well-oiled system to groom and educate players prior to their exposure to international cricket. *