Compromising the game

The latest corruption scandal involving Pakistani cricketers was still under investigation when the News of the World (NOTW), which had earlier broken the spot fixing story, carried out another sting operation. This time they got another Pakistani cricketer, Yasir Hameed, who claimed that his teammates were fixing “almost every match”. A video of the new sting operation was also released.

Initially, Mr Hameed denied having given this interview and later clarified what actually transpired. In a statement issued on his behalf, Mr Hameed said that he was having dinner with a friend when he was “approached by a man who introduced himself as Abid Khan and offered that he would arrange a sponsorship deal for me with Etehad Airways. I have now seen a photograph of the so called Abid Khan and have discovered that he is Mazhar Mahmood.” It is clear that Yasir Hameed was set up by the NOTW reporter but it is astonishing to see that the PCB authorities were in a slumber even though the biggest corruption scandal had already hit Pakistan cricket. Why the players were not told to keep away from strangers after NOTW’s first sting operation is beyond comprehension. Yasir Hameed’s indiscretion shows what has come into focus and how it is continuing. There are gaps and lacunae in monitoring and controlling the movements of cricket players. When on tour, the PCB should make it a point to see who comes to see the players in order to avoid either bookies approaching them or other shady characters. The ICC’s anti-corruption unit should also become more vigilant. If someone like the alleged fixer, Mazhar Majeed, has been an agent of various Pakistani players over the years, it shows that neither the PCB nor the ICC are doing their job properly. The ICC should certify agents who are credible and only they should be allowed to represent the players. After this latest cricket scandal, cricket will never be the same again unless a regime change of monitoring takes place.

On another note, some cricketers are asking for leniency towards Mohammad Amir given his talent and young age. If proved guilty, Amir should not be dealt with leniently. Otherwise, such incidents will encourage other youngsters to take the same course. This would make the game of cricket poorer. We need to root corruption out of this sport, which is our pride and joy. There should be no compromise on principles. Let us save the future of cricket instead of ruining it for the coming generations.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


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