Strictly speaking, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is right when they say that the Pakistan team was not involved in match-fixing on its recent tour of Australia that saw the side lose all of the games they played to the hosts. According to the definition of match-fixing that the nation has become used to – a team losing on purpose in order to get paid by bookies – what transpired was not matchfixing. This time around, the Pakistan team managed to accomplish a new historical low: deliberately losing matches without being paid to do so. It appears that some members of the team underperformed to humiliate their captain, the same captain who a few months ago led them to their first win in a major world tournament in decades. Their reason for doing so is yet to be made clear.
To say that the actions of this team defy reason is a gross understatement. Short of expletives, most Pakistani fans have little to say to the team. The bans and fines levied on several players initially seemed like a harsh overreaction. Now it seems that the PCB had unnecessarily restrained itself. But it appears that they are keen to move on from the episode, a sentiment one would be more likely to agree with if one knew what measures the PCB will take to ensure that such a serious lapse of discipline does not happen again. It appears that Shahid Afridi is being asked to captain the side permanently, no doubt a step in the right direction. The overinflated egos of the younger players need to be pricked and having one of the senior-most players continue to captain the side is a good start. There is obviously a lot more work to be done. But for now, Pakistani fans will settle for just some good old, honest cricketing fun.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 24th, 2010.