Posts Tagged ‘salman butt’
With three Pakistani cricketers behind bars tonight and the trial itself throwing up more questions than answers, was the judge, Mr Justice Cooke, right when he indicated that this case represented the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as far as fixing in cricket is concerned, and if he was, just how big is the iceberg?
The most astonishing day of an astonishing trial came yesterday when agent Mazhar Majeed, under cross-examination prior to sentencing, admitted that corruption was rife in the Pakistan team and that there were competing cells engaged in corruption within the team. Majeed alleged that a player, named only as “X” and not involved in this trial, was the creator of this particular cell, in collaboration with Salman Butt, and that he paid £65,000 to fast bowler Mohammad Asif to “buy” his loyalty.
Now how seriously these claims, made by a man who boasted that he knew Brad Pitt and Roger Federer, should be taken is open to debate. Indeed, if they were isolated allegations then they could be dismissed as the deluded utterings of a power-hungry man, but they are backed up by startling evidence – both new and old.
To begin with, the News of the World investigation named several other players in connection with the scam last August, including Umar and Kamran Akmal, Imran Farhat and Wahab Riaz – all of whom have since played for Pakistan – and claims that were repeated in court by Majeed. Thankfully the ICC is at least considering launching an investigation into some of the claims, but their Anti-Corruption Unit have no police powers and some vital evidence is known to have been destroyed.
As for the PCB itself, they too are making small steps in the right direction. Their new team, led by the impressive Misbah-ul-Haq and boosted by a couple of potential new heroes in Junaid Khan and Azhar Ali, is going about its business in an understated but successful way in the UAE, and chairman Ijaz Butt has been relieved of his post. However, the reactions of a minority of their ’fans’ and some of the players’ families are alarming - a select few have suggested that the three players were victims of a set-up operation – while the feeling persists that if more had been done after the conclusion of the Justice Qayyum report a decade earlier then cricket may have been spared its present pain. It is a sad fact that players implicated in that inquiry, and in others since, continue to play and coach cricket in countries all over the world; a fact that serves to remind us that this is far from being a Pakistani-only problem.
Indeed, it would be easy to turn this case into a vilification of one country’s sportsmen as is so often the case, but the problem runs far deeper. Australians have been implicated in the past – Mark Waugh and Shane Warne are still under suspicion in some quarters – while Hashan Tillakaratne has warned of the problems in Sri Lankan cricket only to be silenced. English county cricket has the ongoing case of Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield, with Marlon Samuels of the West Indies; Herschelle Gibbs from South Africa and Maurice Odumbe of Kenya all linked to cases in recent past. The IPL and ICL have also been plagued by whispers over the years, as a format that is ripe for corruption is played among teams that have no real identity. Meanwhile the increasing television coverage of worldwide domestic cricket is making it ever easier to bet on games played many hundreds of miles away, thus creating the perfect conditions for corruption to thrive and leaving the impression that the Judge may just be right when he said that it could be the tip of the iceberg.
What do you think is the answer and if you were charged with cleaning up cricket what would you do? Please let us know in the comments below.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat has been moved to react to a news story published in the Times of India alleging incidents of corruption in the ICC Cricket World Cup match between Australia and Zimbabwe.
While Australian openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin started their innings slowly in that match, few seasoned cricket viewers and anybody who had been watching much of the tournament, thought anything untoward was going on. Both players were taking their time on a slow pitch against a wily operator in Ray Price and the team were making their first appearance of the tournament.
Most will have reacted as Haddin did to suggestions that his side were under any sort of scrutiny from the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) – by laughing it off as nonsense.
However, the fact that we are still discussing the issue this deep into the tournament, and long since Zimbabwe have returned home, goes to show how seriously any allegations are being taken at the moment.
In a strongly-worded statement, Lorgat said: “An article by Mr Dayal in yesterday’s newspaper made a number of claims about an ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 match between Australia and Zimbabwe that can only be described as fictional.
“We do not comment on the activities of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) and for good reason. However, after several misleading and downright false stories appearing in recent weeks it is time for us to show our displeasure and expose those responsible for affecting the integrity of the media.
“It is also patently false of the reporter to claim that the ICC ever suggested to it that the match was corrupted. The ICC confirms that, in terms of its policy, at no stage did anyone from the ICC speak to the journalist on this topic.”
It is unusual for the ICC to so much as pass comment on such speculation and articles but it does show how important they feel it is to prove that the game is as clean as they can possibly make it.
The last thing this World Cup – which to be fair has produced some great entertainment – needs is any hint of corruption or wrongdoing, particularly in the wake of Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif all being banned following spot-fixing late last year.
And that is why the ICC has felt it important to condemn what it calls such ‘wild claims’ of corruption in order to protect the integrity of cricket.
Mercurial. Pathetic. Inconsistent. Just some of the adjectives being used to describe Pakistan’s performance at the Cricket World Cup. And that’s just from a few posts on our forum.
Particularly galling for Pakistan fans was the way in which they succumbed to a 110-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand, which followed a win over Canada and an impressive 11-run success against Sri Lanka.
Ross Taylor played a blinder, smashing 131 not out in 124 balls but he had been gifted two birthday presents when wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal dropped him twice when he had yet to reach double figures.
At the highest level, teams cannot afford to carry players whose skill in one discipline is not up to scratch and increasingly, Akmal’s glovework is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Pakistan have, in the last year used five wicket-keepers – Kamran, his brothers Umar and Adnan as well as Zulqarnain Haider and Sarfraz Ahmed, but for the moment, Kamran appears to be the man in favour, if not the man in form.
If he was performing with the bat then he might be forgiven a few fumbles but, like Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order, is having a bad tournament.
There are only so many times that experienced hands Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan can get their side out of trouble.
The role of Abdul Razzaq in the side has also been questioned in some quarters. Not seen as quick enough to open the bowling, and nor, if Taylor’s assault is anything to go by, an option at the end of an innings, is he wasted at number eight in the order?
He was the only player who showed much resilience with the bat against New Zealand although Pakistan will point to innings he has played against England and South Africa in recent memory where coming in low down he turned matches around in style.
That can’t happen every game and although captain Shahid Afridi has been impressive with the ball, he too is struggling with the bat. Might he too benefit from moving down the order.
Perhaps a solution might be to shift Abdul Razzaq up the order to number three, replacing one of the misfiring openers – probably Shahzad given that Hafeez is a handy off-spin option – and bring in another bowler?
We must not forget that is still a team in transition, following the loss of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to suspension and the non-selection of Mohammad Yousuf, but, as seems so often to be the case with Pakistan, there are more questions than answers following their latest performance.
Do you have any answers? Will they confound their critics by bouncing back to even go as far as the final? Or will they run out of luck and crash out at the quarter-final stage?
Salman Butt (ten years), Mohammad Asif (seven years) and Mohammad Amir (five years) have all been handed lengthy bans following their involvement in the match-fixing scandal.
That all three could yet end up playing international cricket again in the future (although in the case of Butt and Asif in particular, this remains somewhat unlikely) has sparked intense debate.
There is sympathy with the plight of Amir – he appears set to appeal on the grounds that five years out of the game for two new balls is a disproportionate punishment but also widespread condemnation that the players were not banned for life.
Of course, they are also, along with managed Mazhar Majeed, set to stand trial in the UK and if found guilty could face prison sentences of up to seven years.
Has the tribunal been lenient? Or have the players been unfairly treated? And is there any way back when the bans are up?