Cricket – The Shame Game
August 31, 2010

In recent years Pakistan cricket has fluctuated from the sublime (winning the World Cup in 1992) to the ridiculous, never better illustrated than in the final Test of the current series with England which concluded yesterday.

Having reduced England’s first innings to 102-7 they somehow contrived to lose the match by an innings and 225 runs, the worst Test defeat in their cricketing history!  

The great shame is that in the end no one really cared about the result and some outstanding individual performances, from players on both sides, were overshadowed by a News of the World exclusive which seemingly provided incontrovertible evidence of spot fixing involving three named Pakistan players.

Pakistan cricket has been shamed by revelations that captain Salman Butt, and pace bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, were part of an alleged betting scam that has prompted an immediate police investigation.    

Despite supposedly delivering a deliberate no-ball to order (below) 18-year-old Mohammad Amir devastated England’s middle order by removing Peterson, Collingwood and Morgan, all for ducks, within the space of nine balls. He subsequently finished with 6 for 84 and became the youngest ever bowler to feature on the Lords Honours Board.

It is such a shame that this talented young bowler (left) may, if he is found guilty, suffer a life ban from world cricket, when he apparently had such a bright future ahead of him. He deserved greater protection against those who prey on vulnerable young players and lure them into the murky world of illegal betting.

It will also be a great shame if the superb world record-breaking eighth wicket stand of 332 by England’s Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad (right) has its validity questioned because of the controversy surrounding the circumstances in which it was made.

Cricket has an almost religious status in Pakistan and it unifies the nation. Over the years a roll call of talented players such as Hanif Mohammad, Imran Khan (now a popular political figure)  , Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram (left), Waqar Younis, Inzamam Ul Haq and Mohammed Yousuf has afforded Pakistan recognition on the international sporting stage and been a source of national pride for many who suffer lives of great deprivation and hardship.

Unfortunately, however, scandal and tragedy are seemingly never far away from Pakistan cricket, be it forfeiting the Oval Test in 2006, following ball tampering allegations (right), the tragic death of coach Bob Woolmer in the Caribbean during the 2007 World Cup or the bloody terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus, in Lahore, eighteen months ago.

As a result of the latter the Pakistan team (through no fault of their own) were condemned to become cricketing nomads, playing matches wherever they could find a country willing to accommodate them. This year the venues for their ‘home series’ against Australia were provided by England prior to their scheduled away series over here.             

Captain, Salman Butt responded to the recent devastating floods in Pakistan by promising that his  team, through their performances, would endeavour to raise the spirits of those suffering back home.

It would be unforgivably shameful if these allegations of corruption are substantiated and lead to the exclusion from international cricket of the people’s beloved national team at a time when life for so many is at such a low ebb.