So, it is prison time for Asif, Butt and Amir.
Cronje got away with it. Sure, he was banned from playing Cricket and all that…and he had to live with the shame of doing what he did, but he effectively got away with it. So did Salim Malik.
Azharuddin got away with it too. Again, he was banned for life. And for some unknown reason, the ban was lifted a few years later. Although he never played cricket again, he went on to become a Member of Parliament – just don’t ask me how. Seriously, the thought of a major national party in the country to even consider having him as a candidate seems so wrong. Yet, they picked him and the people even voted him in. I just don’t get it.
This time it is different. The three players involved will get jail terms and match bans. Asif is nearly 29 years old – he is past his prime and with enough indiscretions under his belt I don’t think we will be seeing him in the cricket field again. I don’t think Salman Butt would ever play cricket again either. Both their cricketing careers are over. Good riddance. But of course there is a chance they may get involved in some other facet of the game like so many others before him – like a coach perhaps. Again, this seems so wrong and should that even be allowed?
We all know that if you do the crime, you have to do the time. But if you do the time, should you be forgiven and allowed to get back into the game? Take the case of Amir, for instance. Once he has done the time behind bars and completed his ban, should he be allowed to play for his country again?
In a way I feel sorry for the bloke. Just in his teens; coming from a poor family background and playing for his country. Imagine walking into the dressing room and seeing all his idols over there. Forget being a teen, people twice his age would be in awe of the moment. And yet – these same people convinced him to bowl a no-ball for a few thousand quid….and almost ended his career.
Flash back to 2000
Back in 2000, when the first major betting scandal hit Cricket, I was standing in Victoria Market in Melbourne, when someone walked up to me and said in jest – “Hey, aren’t you an Indian bookie?” I retorted – “Of course, I am. who do you think paid Shane Warne and Mark Waugh?” The conversation ended with a few laughs, but it did get me thinking back then – Who is the biggest offender? the bookie offering these cricketers the money to throw the game or the cricketers who accept it. The corruptors or the corrupted? I know it is almost impossible to forgive the cricketers – the people who we place so much trust in; the men in white who have specially been selected to represent the country they play for; the players who the kids look up to as role models.
On the other hand, the corruptors are these unknown people in the background who do this for a living – they have no morals anyway, and all they care about is making a quick buck.
I had made up my mind back then that the biggest offender is the player who accepts the money. They already get enough to play cricket, not to mention the sponsorships and the adulation of people around them. If they are greedy for more, then they need to be given the biggest punishments – court sentences and bans from cricket that suit the crime.
Fast forward to present day
In the case of Amir, the corruptors weren’t some unknown bookie, but his captain and the lead bowler in his team. People he would look up to for advice. The courts in the UK have taken all this in to consideration, and the jail sentences reflect that, but it highlights how important people who are in a position to influence others, should be incorruptible. Maybe every new member in the team should be assigned a mentor, who is not part of the team – a retired player perhaps, someone the newcomer can turn to for advice.
The challenge is then to find these retired players who aren’t incorruptible and have strong morals. One could argue that if the captain of the team can be corrupted, what chance does a retired player have. But I do believe that they aren’t that difficult to find. Good honest people are the majority, IMO – not the other way around.
Young players also should be given a good induction program. when they start their career. Maybe as soon as someone is selected to play for their country, the board should run an induction program educating the new comer on aspects of betting, drug use, how to handle press and other soft skills. Surely, with the kind of money cricket is making, this would be money well spent.
I want to finish off this post with a few questions –
- Do you think people who’ve done the time should be allowed back into the game? (Think of Amir as an example)
- Is spot fixing a lesser of a crime than match fixing? And should the sentence for these crimes be a little bit more lenient?
- If the exchange of money had taken place somewhere other than England (say Dubai, or Karachi), would the players have gotten away with it?
Would like to know what you think?