Dealing with corruption in Cricket

The world of cricket and especially Pakistani cricket received a big blow when a UK tabloid newspaper “The News of the World” broke the story about Pakistani cricketers’ alleged involvement in match fixing and spot fixing. According to the tabloid newspaper, Mazhar Majeed worked as an agent on behalf of the players in orchestrating a drama on the field. In return to this, they got hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Allegedly seven players are involved including skipper Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Muhammad Amir and Muhammad Asif. Former players, civil society and media are demanding exemplary punishment for the guilty players.

Some skepticism is being shown over the credibility of the newspaper breaking the story, as it has a past track record of being sued by celebrities for spreading false information about them. But the big issue is the involvement of Scotland Yard and British Police, who not only investigated the alleged players and PCB’s management, but also confiscated cell phones and laptops of some players.

It is also to be noted that Scotland Yard’s and British Police’s action is not without magistrate’s approval, which shows that there is something substantial in the hands of British investigators and law enforcement agencies, which has lead to the arrest of Mazhar Majeed and probe with Pakistani players.

Innocent till proven guilty is a known fact, but the ties of Pakistani players with the alleged book maker Mazhar Majeed are to be noted, especially when they were advised by the management not to meet them. Story about Mazhar Majeed and his brother Azhar Majeed was published in a Pakistani Urdu newspaper on 27th July. The players should have shown some cautious approach in meeting with these people, but it is reported that not only players but some of the team officials were seen with the alleged bookmaker. Because of this reason, former players and members of Pakistani parliament are demanding an inquiry against Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management.

There are reports that International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering to investigate the last eighty matches of Pakistan team. Also ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has clearly said that ICC will not tolerate any corruption in the game and they are looking for some conclusive action before Thursday.

Optimism and patriotism are one thing, but to be really honest this is not the time for our authorities to run away from the issue or provide any cover up. If players are found innocent, then a heavy lawsuit should be filed against the newspaper, but if players are found guilty then no mercy needs to be shown against those who brought disgrace to our country.

The players might face suspension and possibly lifetime bans from cricket, but this should not stop here. A complete criminal investigation and procedure needs to be done and punishment needs to be given according to law.

It’s time to consider the structure of our cricket board and bring some accountability in the decision making process. Pakistan is already too much into problems like terrorism , economic turmoil and floods and now these allegations have really shaken our minds. The best way to come out clean as a country is to do what is right and fair in a transparent manner without considering how many big guns we need to punish.