The pain that Pakistan cricket went through in the aftermath of the spot-fixing saga the last time the national team embarked on a tour of England still seems to be fresh in the minds of those at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Leading players Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were found guilty of spot-fixing and spent time in prison, bringing much shame to the country. Therefore, as the team get ready to tour England again in June this year to take part in the Champions Trophy, the PCB has come up with measures to avoid a repeat of events that rocked Pakistan cricket in the summer of 2010.
The main focus of these measures seems to be on controlling the way the players use the internet and other communication technology while on tour, with the PCB even reportedly considering the use of a device which can block social networking websites and monitor internet activity. In the past, there have been instances of sting operations having been carried out by media groups targeting umpires and cricketers that have made use of software like Skype — hence, the apprehension of the PCB does seem justified. However, controlling the manner in which players use the internet is not an ideal way to avoid controversies as this infringes on their personal freedom. A better approach is to educate players about the dangers of corruption and interacting with suspicious people on tour.
To give credit to the PCB, it did introduce such an education programme soon after the spot-fixing scandal broke out and since then, the team has stayed away from corruption-related controversies. This clearly indicates that educating players is the way to go about eradicating corruption. Attempting to control their activities might work in the short term but in a situation where there are no checks on the players and an opportunity to indulge in corruption pops up, the only way to ensure that they do not go down the wrong path will be the knowledge of the dangers and humiliation that dishonesty can bring.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2013.