Songs of Experience – Cricket’s Answer

Cricket commentators and specialist cricketing journalists, are not the best people to investigate the extent of corruption in cricket.  They depend on those who invest in or sponsor the game, on the financial worth of the game itself, and on comfortable relationships with present players.  Those who doubt this should write S-T-A-N-F-O-R-D ten million times.

In the present situation Third Man hazards a guess first that the extent of corruption is far greater that anyone with a financial interest in the legitimate game is willing at the moment to admit (gains from spread betting being far in excess of those of eccentric spot bets), and secondly, that, because this is an area of organised criminality, considerable force and threats of violence are involved.

Just as the cricketainment industry dare not admit the extent of the corruption because it might damage their financial assets, so also the invesitagtors and politicians are inhibited from admitting the extent of the involvement of organised criminals because it demonstrates their powerlessness and, in societies with weak legal systems, their possible compromised positions as stooges and placemen.  

Although individual cricketers are responsible for making the first steps, probably based on the forces outlined by Chris Dillow (see again), once hooked in, they can be compelled against their will into further complicity.  They lose the freedom that is at the heart of pure sport and particularly of pure cricketing competition. 

Those of us in the ‘outer’ must keep this continually in mind and refrain from judgement just as Diogenes, The Old Batsman and others warn, but those more closely involved in reporting on the game and in authority must examine how they can best serve the game and its current players.

Last week during the attention given to the publication of Tony Blair’s memoirs, journalists were asking themselves whether they had done enough to communicate the true extent of the breakdown in the relationship of the Prime Minister and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer.  

The truth is that those journalists are insiders in a market for information.  If they ‘tell too much’ they lose their access to that information.  They choose to tread carefully.  That is why specialist journalists and commentators are not the best to ‘out’ the big truths at the time when their publication is most valuable and necessary to us.

The same is true of cricket commentators, former cricketers and journalists.  Yet it is not true of the very big beasts whose position is secure or whose journalistic career is near an end.  Nor is it true of the blogosphere as some excellent reporting already demonstrates.

Cricketers need to be free to compete.  Corrupt practices stem from and thrive on lawlessness and limits to freedom (that is not to excuse them but to explain them).  All of us who cherish cricket have to do what we can in the fight to gain and maintain those freedoms.  There is a moral duty to do what we can in that pursuit.  Some are in very strong positions to achieve this and should begin immediately.

‘Break this heavy chain,
That does freeze my bones around!
Selfish, vain,
Eternal bane,
That free love with bondage bound.’

Earth’s Answer – Songs of Experience, William Blake.

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