Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A Surprise to All?

Cricket is suffering a slow and painful demise. After this week’s sentencing of the three Pakistani cricketers, captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and teenager Mohammad Amir along with their co conspirator Mazhar Majeed to gaol. The sport has suffered yet another setback, one which it may never recover from.

The four people involved deserved to be sent to prison. Butt and Asif had everything, they were two of the most highly paid Pakistani cricketers. Amir on the other hand received just 1300 pounds per month for his services. This is approximately $AUS2000, which is measly compared to many Australian cricketers whom many have contracts of $400 000.
Mohammad Asif
 Image courtesy of was Ngb at en.wikipedia

It is unfortunate for Amir, who was raised in a poor village of Pakistan that he got himself involved in this spot fixing scandal. He is still responsible for his actions, but he was clearly threatened by the hierarchy of the team and felt he had little choice if he wanted to remain part of the Pakistani cricket team.

The ICC has neglected its responsibilities in regards to protecting cricket from corruption. It has turned a blind eye, while they pocket the profits of the many needless tournaments and matches that occur throughout the cricket calendar each year.

Cricket has become solely focussed on the twenty over format and appears to be willing to let Test cricket in particular suffer as a result. The IPL and BCCI are full of corruption and no doubt spot fixing is occurring. From the ICC point of view it appears they are far more concerned about the short term profitability of cricket, rather than the integrity of the game, which has well and truly disappeared.

Cricket Australia are not exempt from this either. The expansion of the meaningless Big Bash League has come at the expense of several Sheffield Shield matches. Not only this but CA failed to use the League as a way of expanding into regional areas such as Geelong, Canberra and Wollongong. As a result it is hard to feel any connection to the Sydney Thunder or Melbourne Renegades.

For cricket to begin the long road back to regaining legitimacy in the eyes of the public, it must start the Test Championship ASAP, and reduce its reliance on Twenty20 which should still have a place in the game, albeit a smaller stake.

As for the Pakistani spot fixers, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif will never play again. I do hope that Amir does find his feet again in Test cricket, if not the sport will have lost one of its most promising athletes.

The average man of the street could tell you that spot fixing in cricket has been occurring for years. The ICC have no choice but to finally acknowledge this and start the long road back to the top.

Only when Pakistan’s wins are not tainted by allegations of corruption will this occur. Before you say it, yes it is a long way off.

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