The importance of being earnest
If there is one major lesson that has been learnt at the cost of the spot-fixing scandal that has shaken the very foundations of cricket, it is that there is no substitute for honesty.
While strong arguments have been forwarded about the lack of efficacy of the International Cricket Council’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit, and voices from around the world have attacked the global watchdogs for their inaction. But, as Haroon Lorgat, the ICC’s chief executive, has explained more than once, the Anti Corruption Unit has neither the brief of the police, which includes the power to make arrests and interrogate suspects, nor the resources of a tabloid like the News of the World, which is willing to sink hundreds of thousands of pounds to expose corruption.
The Anti Corruption Unit has a role, and that is to put the most stringent protocols in place, guarding the territories that players frequent in their official capacity – whether it’s the cricket grounds they play in or the hotels they stay at. The Anti Corruption Unit, however, has no jurisdiction on public places, like a restaurant the player might go to, or the home of an acquaintance he chooses to visit.
With cricket having grown into the financial monster that it is, coupled with the global spread of live television and internet coverage, it is only natural that corrupt elements be attracted to the sport. That they will try to subvert the system to meet their own ends is an unfortunate reality that we have to live with.
Equally, no system you put in place, whether it is the current anti-corruption protocols, or something new the ICC comes up with, can be perfect. There will always be loopholes, and equally people wanting to exploit them.
With that being the case, the only way the game can be truly free of corruption is if the players themselves are honest.
It’s not a coincidence that India’s resurrection from the matchfixing scandal of 2000 occurred under the watch of men like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman. With men of this stature and background running the team as a tight ship, there was no way a young cricketer would have entertained thoughts of bowling a no-ball for cash, even if such an offer was made.
If cricket has to be clean, its cricketers have to be honest. There really is no other way forward.