Monday, November 7, 2011

The Spotfixing Verdict

August 21, 2010 – The day the cricketing world was shaken up with following edition of the “News of the World” paper.
In the immediate aftermath of the Lords Test, the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir was dropped from the Pakistan team and later banned by the ICC. But this wasn’t the worse to come for the trio as an year later a jury found them guilty and gave them prison terms of varying lengths.
The first thought on hearing of the outcome of the case was that just punishment had been meted out to the guilty party. The spot fixing scam had left a sense of betrayal. It was weird to imagine to what extent people were going to make money. For the players it must have been an easy option. Take money on the side, bowl a couple of no-balls (which aren’t an oddity by themselves) at fixed points. During this they could still be giving their best for the country as well. I wondered there were people who actually bet on this kind of stuff. And the sums were large enough to be able to buy off the players. All this is still beyond belief.
The whole sequence of events is full of ironies
The whole saga was brought to light not by any anti-corruption agencies, ICC or government bodies but by a now-defunct newspaper which had to be closed down due its unethical ways of getting information.
Mohammed Amir actually bowled one of the better fast bowling spells in recent times. His no-ball was part of a spell in which he took the wickets of Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood, Morgan, Prior and Swann. Showing that except for the no ball he bowled his best for his country.
Salman Butt captained Pakistan to 2 test victories including the first one against Australia in around 15 years. It seemed Pakistan had found some stability when the scandal broke out. The irony of life that his son was born the day he was handed a prison sentence.
Mohammed Asif was the one who had talent, and has taken extra-ordinary measures to blow it away. Drugs scandal, physical fights with team mates and finally the spot-fixing case. Also it turns out that he was paid more than others to ensure that he doesn’t change over to a rival spot-fixing gang.
The verdict has made a few things clear.
  • If you are caught fixing you are not just banned from the game, you are jailed as well. At least in England. Hopefully this would set some deterrent.
  • There are more names involved here which haven’t yet come out. Comments regarding Asif certainly seem to suggest that.
Hopefully cricket is cleaner now, at least I would like to believe so, though the eveidence may suggest otherwise. But this is only the tip. Every allegation has to be thoroughly investigated. And the concerned should have immediate life bans set on them. Otherwise any odd incident would be looked at it in a different light.
Nishant Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Nishant on Twitter @NishantSKumar

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