Dirty Dollars – The Utter and Unchecked Corruption at the Heart of Cricket

In 2009/10 the Pakistan cricket team toured Australia.  In a three match Test series they lost all three ‘encounters’.  They also lost all 5 ODI matches and the single T20 played over a nightmare period of two and a half months between December 19th and February 5th.

Relations inside the visitor’s dressing room and between the side and its administrators looked from the outside chaotic.  Captain Mohammad Yousuf appeared to be in a power struggle with former captains Younis Khan and Shoaib Maluk. (But over what?)

Shadid Afridi was involved in a bizarre ball tampering incident in which he blatantly bit the ball and later, after an internal inquiry by the Pakistan Cricket Board, he and the brothers Akmal were fined and put on probation for six months. 

The same inquiry handed out in effective a life time ban to Yousif and Younis, plus a year’s ban to Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.

This bedlam and the fact that their opponents were then wrapped in a mantle of invincibility verging on immortality inherited from their more worthy forebears, meant that the results prolonged Australia’s reputation as the world’s preeminent side. 

Their dramatic escape from the jaws of defeat in the Second Test played at the SCG   added to their reputation for unassailability. Despite being bowled out for 127 in their first innings and starting their second innings 210 runs behind, and then having to defend a second innings lead of only 171, Australia scuttled out their opponents for just 139 to win by 36,

But as England were to prove later in 2010, this was a very ordinary Australian side – a side of the fifth rank. Actually, the Pakistan team was bristling with talent, much of it new and prodigious.

During their inquiry the Pakistan management testified to the PCB that they suspected that some of their team conspired with bookmakers during that Second Test match.

In a comment that would to a large extent be echoed by players and pundits after the Lord’s Test of 2010 when Pakistan allowed England to recover from 7 for 107 and post a mammoth and spread betters’ feast of 446,  the Australian captain, Michael Clarke, dissembled that he “certainly had no suspicions”.

To have said anything else, Clarke would effectively have admitted what Test cricketers, their management and surely most of the game’s administrator and commentariat must personally have believed; that matches, events and therefore records and feats against Pakistan in a long period around that time must have been – to borrow an expression from the lawyers – unsafe and unsatisfactory because of corrupt practice.

This illegality has been going on under the eyes of administrators and so-called journalists, the latter more anxious to protect the product they earn their living from than to expose the truth . 

Let’s face it, the ex-cricketers who are part of the multimillion dollar entertainment industry which cricket has become and who these days have a virtual monopoly on reportage of cricket have a feeble record on the exposure of this endemic corruption.  They have failed the paying public, the supporters and the game itself. 

It took ‘real’ journalists to catch the crooks while credulous commentators endeavoured to explain away the inexplicable happenings – including the giant no-balls – that they witnessed at Lord’s and in previous matches.

After yesterday’s guilty verdicts, cricket has a choice. 

Either it closes the door on these events of the recent past, locking the ‘mad relation’ in the attic far from sight if not from sound, and conspires to move on. 

Or it roots out what has happened, investigates all the otherwise incomprehensible dropped catches, the imprudent bowling changes, the rash run charges, the reckless dismissals, the careless collapses and admits that the results, the stats, the accomplishments are worthless and should be struck from the records.

Those who cheated and took corrupt payments (and there are many more who have yet even to face charges) are of course principally to blame, but their cricketing opponents, administrators, cricket press and commentators share responsibility for the long continuance of this utter and unchecked corruption that has brought the professional game to the very brink.

Perhaps only the fans – the game’s true supporters – can now be trusted to know what the right thing is to do now.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Dirty Dollars – The Utter and Unchecked Corruption at the Heart of Cricket

  1. Pingback: Down at Third Man on the corruption of cricket | Cricket

  2. A really fine polemic that makes me (and this http://wp.me/p1OY5E-1o) feel complacent. The issue with appealing to fans (me) to be vigilant is that we (I) want to believe. Athletics and swimming continued to be followed in the 1970s and 80s when corruption and cheating were even more evident. Keep prodding us, though.
    Chrisps (chrispscricket.wordpress.com)

    • Chris thank you for your comment and best wishes to you and your thoughtful blog which is so much in keeping with the way lovers of the game ‘view’ it, and which is why it is a pleasure to read.

      Trott’s achievement was considerable – his 184 at Lord’s in 2010 was a towering achievement, which is why the actions of Butt, Asif and Amir (and surely others) is so reprehensible. And why the England players were so angry at what had happened.

      Like you, when watching that Friday’s play, Third Man happily suspended disbelief and enjoyed the achievements of Trott and Broad in taking England from 107 for 7 to 434 before Broad their mammoth partnership ended.
      Naively he thought it was just poor captaincy and wrote a piece wondering what might have happened had Chappell (who had commanded Massie’s great bowling at Lord’s on a similar day forty years before) had directed Amirs wonderful bowling that day.

      He did so because as he also wrote here https://downatthirdman.wordpress.com/2010/08/29/proof-of-purchase-%e2%80%93-taliban-and-al-qaeda-main-beneficiaries-of-gambling-accusations/ at around noon on that day he had assumed that England would be out for under a hundred, the conditions were so conducive to the great talents of Aamir and Asif. Even then the disparity between the wickets taken by Aamir and Asif seemed extraordinary.

      But he was also increasingly surprised to see Butt take the foot off the England throat. He could not believe some of the bowling changes and field placings. Why no sustained attack when England were on their knees with seven wickets down? Why no third slip? Why use your two strike bowlers so sparingly with the new ball? Why take off Aamir just as Broad reached 99. (It must be concluded that there was a huge gamble on Broad making 100). Why use a part time leg spinner?

      He even thought that one even had to speculate on the missed chances (two slip chances in an over) and juvenile miss-fields.

      (Then of course Pakistan replied with 74, which which may reflect more on the war taking place in the dressing room between those in on the fix and those angry about it, than on a continuing conspiracy.)

      That is the effect of the poison that disfigures everything when trust is irretrievably lost in any area of life. And that was why England were furious.
      But they and the commentariat kept schtum. Was it The Who that sang “Won’t get fooled again.”

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