This ain’t cricket!


The so called ‘Gentlemen’s Game’ is under yet another attack. The dark side of cricket, which inspires some to make truckloads of money at the blink of an eye, has resurfaced to show its repulsive face yet again. The incident at the Mecca of cricket has added to the cricketing jargon. Now we have to deal with the term ‘spot fixing’. As if we’d already grown comfortable with the term called ‘match fixing’.
This is not the first time allegations have come to Pakistani cricketers or Pakistani cricket. However, it must be one of the worst blows ever. After terror attacks and security concerns that snatched many international matches – and the much needed money – away from Pakistan, this must be the new low for our flood stricken neighbors.
Money seems to be dwindling for Pakistan cricketers, compared to their much richer counterparts on the other side of border. And for that Pakistan Cricket Board has to take some blame. The PCB looks like writing a book called ‘How to ruin the best talents in the World’, and from the looks of it, the book probably would be the biggest one written on sports ever. We cannot forget the numerous Pakistani cricketers who stormed the world in their teens and faded into oblivion a few years later, more often than not due to mismanagement, both personal and personnel. That could be one reason, which makes those presently donning the whites or playing under the floodlights, think – “Make hay while the sun shines”.
Cricketers, or players, are human beings. And they need to continue living, even after they stop going to the field day in and day out. And survival needs funds. And the callous attitude of the administrators, who still enjoy the top posts in sports governing bodies due to favour from up above, make sure the funds do not reach where it is aimed at.
It would be quite a while before the last word is said on spot-fixing. Before that happens, it should also be noted that corruption in cricket or in sports, is only a reflection of what is prevalent in the society.
Pakistan, despite producing finest of young cricketers, has had to remain in the list of countries affected by public sector corruption for ages. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), published by Transparency International, keeps Pakistan in the 139th position, out of 180 countries and territories around the world.
Interestingly, we are Pakistan’s neighbors here too, at 143rd spot. The listing doesn’t make us proud, but explains where we stand. More interesting is the fact that the country heading the list is New Zealand – the country which is home to just over 4 million people and some 40 million sheep. New Zealand may not be the world beaters in cricket, or any other sports for that matter. But, be it cricket or rugby, their team is there or thereabout. Most countries in the top 10 have excelled in one sport or the other.
Excellence is a culture, and coming back to the country ranked 143rd, we need to understand that. When two of the sporting bodies, Nepal Olympic Committee and Sports Ministry, formed two separate committees for feasibility study to host 13th South Asian Games, we faltered right at the starting block.
The two bodies that are expected to manage, facilitate and coordinate entire sporting gamut in Nepal failed to do exactly that, even between themselves. It raises question if these two teams have been formed for the same purpose – to serve sports in Nepal. It may appear unpleasant, but these two have hardly considered welfare of sports – take it with a pinch of salt. How many eyebrows from these two teams were raised when there were murmurs of ‘match fixing’ in the football League?
In world cricket, many would be ready to disband Pakistan. While it may look like an action, it would be a mere knee-jerk reaction. We need smarter action than that, here too.
In an age where players let their tongues get ahead of their brain, administrators – in Pakistan or Nepal – should not do so.
And then you may ask: When will it happen?

(The article originally appeared in The Kathmandu Post, 4th September, 2010, in a weekly column of Yours Truly) 

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