Mohammad Asif: The man who did not know best
It will add to his credibility if he just accepts what he did, acknowledge it as a mistake, and serve his ban.
I always regret not being there at the National Stadium Karachi to watch the historic test match (January 2006) in which Pakistan beat India to win a rare series. On a helpful pitch under a generous cloud cover, Pakistan's fast bowling disintegrated a strong Indian batting line-up.
I was doing my A' levels at that time, and out of the many bunked classes, I still can’t believe I didn't bunk school for that day’s play. The highlight of the game, apart from Irfan Pathan’s first over hat-trick, will remain in memory for the absolute mastery of Mohammad Asif with the ball as he scythed through the stumps of Sehwag, Laxman and Tendulkar. It was his 3rd Test match and he had announced his arrival loud and clear.
Mohammad Asif ─ our very own answer to Glenn McGrath.
Mohammad Asif ─ the magician, as called by cricket pundits, a word you’d normally associate with a spinner.
Mohammad Asif ─ a bowler who could bowl as a supreme trickster on a helpful pitch, or a strategist with the patience of an elementary school teacher working the batsmen over on flat tracks.
Mohammad Asif – accused and convicted as a cheat.
After serving half his one-year jail sentence in London, being convicted on charges of conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments over deliberate no-balls bowled during the Lord's Test, he is back in Pakistan. He intends to contest the case in the Court for Arbitration in Switzerland, as a means to hasten his return to international cricket.
He has claimed that the ICC was prejudiced in the judgement of handing a seven-year ban from all forms of cricket, and from interviews on print media and TV, he seems quite confident of justice being served to him.
Now I’m skeptical of a lot of things, but when it comes to cricket, I’m a gullible fool. I’d do just about anything to believe that the sanctity of the game is still fully intact. Maybe I am too afraid of coming face to face with the truth, I do not know; more often than not I choose to side step the issue of corruption in the game in the form of match-fixing and more recently, spot fixing.
This is why I had reserved judgement on anything until the court had heard the case and had gone through all evidences regarding Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif.
But the court proceedings were made public and the evidences against the unfortunate trio were laid out bare, with the fact being proven that the video was not evidently cooked. Most of Pakistan, including me, with a heavy heart, had to resign to the fact that the convicted cricketers had probably cheated, especially with Mohammad Amir pleading guilty.
We may all go at lengths about why two fast bowlers, who seemingly had the world at their feet, went on to do what they did. Mohammad Asif was not a fringe player; neither was he a cricketer struggling to cement a place in the team. The real reason may never be unearthed, and we may have to accept the hint of truth in the fact that some people just have a disturbing tendency for shady activities.
Let’s throw out the ‘innocence’ of uneducated cricketers from this argument. Judging Asif’s brain capabilities from his bowling maturity, the numerous global tours and him being a seasonal cricketer, hardly anyone is willing to believe that garbage. So when he used the banned drug ‘Nandrolone’, he did not know best. When he was caught in Dubai carrying contraband drugs in his luggage, he did not know best. And when he was caught red handed spot-fixing with a hand in the goodies jar, guess what? He did not know best.
His ban from cricket is undoubtedly a great loss to Pakistan, and even more, to international cricket as a whole. For this man was a rare talent – a wily fox in the company of modern gym-toned spit-frothing fast bowlers. He was all about smooth action and wrist position. However, for the greater good, it is important that such men are kept away from further corruption of the game, and of upcoming young cricketers. It will add to his credibility if he just accepts what he did, acknowledge it as a mistake, and serve his ban.
Perhaps he is desperate, because the return of a fast bowler at the age of 34 will be almost impossible. Perhaps I am desperate, too. I hope whatever he intends to do with the appeal, or if he has anything worthwhile to prove, he does it now. If there is some truth to his case being prejudiced, let it be decided once and for all and never be discussed again. I am sick of Salman and Asif appearing on media everyday proclaiming their innocence in the whole spot-fixing fiasco. This keeps reminding the world what three Pakistanis did.
Do not degrade yourself further, please; do not degrade Pakistan further and do not degrade cricket further.
Read more by Hamza here or follow him on Twitter @GumbyAKhan