Shock and dismay has set in for fans of the Pakistani cricket team over allegations that members of the team are involved in spot-fixing.
The news — which broke in the early hours of Sunday — elicited an instant outpouring of anger online, with fans tweeting and blogging their immense disappointment in the team and pondering on the ramifications of the scandal.
Pakistani actor Veena Malik has claimed she knew of Mohammad Asif’s alleged involvement all along, as reported in The Express Tribune on August 30. One wonders why she didn’t speak up before, given that she has constantly claimed she and Asif are “just friends”.
Jemima Khan, former cricketer Imran Khan’s ex-wife whose children are fans of the national team, tweeted: “My cricket loving, Pak supporting boys are gutted by today’s match fixing story. If true, life bans, I say.” She later posted: “My boy pointing out sadly that Mohammad Aamir is only 18 and the youngest player ever to reach 50 Test wickets.”
Ex-supermodel Elizabeth Hurley also weighed in on the issue, surprisingly with a conspiracy theory of her own: “I bet those poor, young Pakistani players are forced to cheat. I feel sorry for them - what a waste of talent.”
Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team, also tweeted: “Watching news ... Cricket is fixed ... IPL (Indian Premier League) is rigged ... CWG (Commonwealth Games) needs fixing ... Fake player celebrated on front pages. So many games we play no sports alas.”
The fake player refers to the author of the Fake IPL Player blog, widely rumoured to be an insider into the IPL who posted scathing accounts of the IPL’s second season. Shah Rukh Khan sparked a huge controversy in India earlier this year when he said Pakistani cricket players should have been included in the IPL. His comments earned him the wrath of right-wing Indian political parties which threatened cinemas that would show his film My Name is Khan, which was releasing then.
Bollywood and bookies
Even though match-fixing scandals and bribery have made front-page news for decades, they still haven’t garnered as much celluloid attention. In 2008, Mahesh Bhatt produced the film Jannat which starred Emraan Hashmi, who played a cricket bookie. World Cup 2011, which released last year, also dealt with match fixing, but was a flop at the box office. In World Cup 2011, four Indian cricket players throw a match against Pakistan, but then are given another shot and decide to win the World Cup against its cricket rival. In 2009, Mahesh Manjrekar played a bookie in the film 99. Vishal Bhardwaj’s film Kaminey had Shahid Kapoor playing a bookie for horse races.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.