How Pakistan forced the ICC’s hand
For years now, the Pakistan Cricket Board has been doing all it possible could to ruin the lives of the cricketers that represent the country. Their latest actions – a shrill protestation of innocence, and a stubborn refusal to even temporarily withdraw players in the eye of a spot-fixing storm – has forced the hand of the International Cricket Council.
Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif might be cursing the ICC for handing out suspensions, but the ones they really should be angry are the PCB, and themselves, though not necessarily in that order.
As soon the News of the World, whose methods and motives you might dislike, broke their story, some things became clear. The first among them was that even if it was difficult to prove in a court of law that the Pakistani trio were guilty of spot-fixing, it would impossible to turn a blind eye to the evidence at hand. A clear link between Mazhar Majeed and the players exist; Majeed’s knowledge of when no-balls would be delivered (and by whom, thereby making the captain, who decides who bowls when, complicit) is beyond doubt; the video evidence of the no-balls is damning.
To expect the cricket world at large to accept a denial at face value, was asking too much.
That apart, the PCB would have done well to consider the fact they – through no fault of their own – are not in a position to host teams in their own country. With that being the case, the England & Wales Cricket Board have done them a huge favour allowing them to play their “home” games on some of the finest grounds available. With that being the case, and the ECB having already invested money in hosting the series, and tickets being sold, cancelling the two Twenty20 matches and the five ODIs was never an ideal solution. Equally, allowing the infamous trio to continue playing was clearly untenable – imagine the displeasure of the opposition and the stifling attention that would have followed every move.
If the PCB had withdrawn these players – while admitting no guilt till the investigations of the UK police were still incomplete – who knows if the ICC would have stepped in so swiftly with suspensions?
Instead, the PCB almost dared the ICC, saying there would be no suspensions or action. To start with, that sort of action was not the exclusive purview of the PCB.
Having done their bit, the PCB forced the ICC, a body that is traditionally slow to act, overly careful and deeply scared of litigation to move swiftly.
In hindsight, though, it was foolish to expect any better of the Pakistan Cricket Board, a group of administrators whose incompetence is only exceeded by their lack or care for the players who represent them or respect for the game they govern.
Traditionally, Pakistan have refused to accept any guilt for their actions, or that of their nationals. For proof, look no further than a certain Ajmal Kasab. There’s evidence in still photographs and on security cameras of Kasab being part of one of the most heinous terrorist acts in recent memory. Have you heard an admission of guilt?
Well, then, why do you expect any better over the trifling matter of a few no-balls for cash?