Every batsman has experienced the sharp pain of a ball rapping the glove and catching a knuckle. We wonder, though, if the remarkably thick-skinned PCB will even realise just how serious a warning has been issued by the ICC board which met in Dubai, for the first time since the spot-fixing charges against Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir marred this summer’s cricket in England.
The ICC warning is terse and to the point. It says that Pakistan must do more to protect the integrity of the game: that it must educate its players to work more closely with the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit, enforce measures to control corruption in domestic cricket and stop attempting to tarnish the reputation of others. The last is, quite obviously, a reference to the PCB chairman’s recent suggestion of corruption within the English squad. The threat of further action hangs over Pakistan if these measures are not implemented within 30 days.
It is quite possible the PCB will react with annoyance and allegations of conspiracy that we have seen for weeks. But it must consider if such a course is wise. For years, Pakistan has chosen, like an ungainly ostrich, to hide its head in the sand rather than face up to accounts of match-fixing. Even past inquiries and the meting out of bans has largely been intended to reduce the heat rather than to solve the problem. This strategy has been a disaster and may explain why allegations continue to gather so rapidly.
We should not act only on the basis of tabloid allegations. But there is mounting evidence that problems do exist and they need to be examined with maturity. The PCB must recognise that the cancer of corruption could destroy Pakistani cricket. It must endeavour to work with the ICC, ensuring that no one is victimised, and do more to clean up the game so more embarrassment does not come our way.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2010.
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