Latest fixing scandal will damage Pakistan cricket considerably

Ajit Vijaykumar 23:56 11/02/2017
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Here we are again, talking about Pakistan cricket and spot fixing.

On day two of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League, fans across the globe were given the nasty news that two players – opener Sharjeel Khan and middle order batsman Khalid Latif – had been suspended for alleged involvement in corruption. And the dreaded spectre of fixing returned to haunt Pakistan cricket all over again.

We have been here before. Numerous times, actually. The biggest one of the lot came in 2010 when Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were caught in the spot fixing scandal of the infamous Lord’s Test. They were subsequently convicted and banned for five years from the game.

However all three returned to competitive cricket following the end of their bans and Amir was fast-tracked to the national fold with surprising speed.

Many former Pakistan players warned against allowing the tainted players back in the national team, irrespective of their talent, because it would set a dangerous precedent that there is a way back irrespective of the crime committed.

And now, we have the highly talented Sharjeel out in the cold with other players also under investigation for attempting to corrupt the game.

Pakistan cricket has a big image problem. The security scenario in the country has forced its cricket to be played in offshore venues and despite the best efforts of the Pakistan board, it doesn’t look like international cricket will return to Pakistan in a meaningful way anytime in the near future.

While the security aspect is beyond the control of cricketers and administrators, the integrity of the game definitely is. But they have failed to keep things clean and this latest saga will only make it more difficult to take the game forward in Pakistan.

Pakistan cricket is now stuck in a vicious cycle where lack of a lucrative financial cricket product is giving an opportunity to cricketers to go astray. That’s not to say that financially secure players don’t indulge in such acts, just look at S Sreesanth and the IPL.

However, if more players are part of a successful T20 league, there is lesser incentive to put everything on the line and cheat.

Add to it the battle to make PSL a financial success, and you have a scenario where the Pakistan management has to work doubly hard to keep the ship afloat and also see that players don’t lose their way.

It was never going to be an easy task and just when there were signs that Pakistan cricket was ready to turn over a new leaf with PSL, the spot fixing scandal has set them back a long way. It now will have to fight its way out just to reach a level from where it can hope to grow again.

The signs are not good and for a national team that is going to witness the retirement of some star names in the upcoming season, the loss of talented cricketers and the stain on its nascent T20 league is an enormous blow.

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