The sordid saga of fixing is surely going to become a horrible tale for the future generation of cricket lovers; joining the list of other such acts that have destroyed the pristine nature of sports.
The quantum of punishment for the Pakistani trio of Salman Butt, Mohd Asif and Mohd Amir, along with bookmaker Mazhar Mazeed has been announced. The guilty have also been given a chance to appeal against the verdict. Almost all of them have applied for the same.
What this incident has done is that it has opened a can of worms. The nature of spot-fixing makes it difficult for anyone to be even remotely aware of any unnatural shifts in a game. This is due to the fact that most of us are more concerned with the bigger picture-the result. Owing to the nature of a cricket match, there are various vulnerable elements that can be, without affecting the overall result, manipulated by bookmakers for making personal gains.
For sceptics and fans alike this has forced them to rewind their memories to the many magical moments they`ve witnessed over the years while watching a game that was turned on its head by a divine act of a player. It seems quite logical now to question their sanctity. As has been revealed from reports over the past few months, fixing in cricket is not just a sub-continental malice. So, this puts unwittingly every other match played till date under the microscope of suspicion.
It is to be clearly understood that this judgment should not be misconstrued as the final nail in the coffin that supposedly houses corruption. Nor would the upcoming ones be able to achieve this utopian dream of turning cricket corruption-free. The reason is simple, as long as there is a pied piper and some vulnerable rats, he will find them and manipulate them for his own purposes. Mazhar Mazeed is certainly just the tip of the iceberg. He is just one unfortunate pawn who was caught after someone from Pakistan cricket`s management tipped a reporter about his involvement in fixing.
Weeding out corruption from cricket is a long overdue process that should have taken shape long time ago but for inefficiencies of the individual cricket boards proving to be a teething impediment. Pakistan Cricket Board is a mess in itself and the country as a whole is torn between terrorism and economic backwardness.
This adds to the many reasons why the ugly head of fixing rears its head too often in Pakistan. Another cause is the fact that many of its cricketers come from a poor economic background or they have faced hardships during the years that define their future career paths. Cricket happens to be both a passion and an escape from a stressed life where they have to take care of their families when it should have been otherwise.
Salman Butt had to look after his sisters in his teenage years itself when his father left the family. Mohammed Amir belonged to the poor farmlands of Punjab. Cricket proved to be a way of leaving behind the past memories of struggle and yearnings.
Though there are a lot of incentives for the players who make it to the national team, the inherent insecurity arises regarding as to how long they can hold on to their positions. In the domestic circuit, cricketers in Pakistan earn a lot less than what their counterparts do in Australia or India. Improving the financial incentives at domestic level would certainly go a long way in fighting with the demons of corruption.
Former Pakistan Test captain, Amir Sohail rightly pointed out in an interview that “Unless players get security of job and money in our domestic cricket they will always be susceptible to corruption and bookmakers".
However, Salman But was the captain of the national side, and then what possibly could have forced him to be the orchestrator of the spot-fixing fiasco? Here, the personal integrity of a human being comes into question. Participating in various sports is not just an individual endeavour. It is a mean to present the national identity, cultural values and a will to excel. Indulging in unbecoming acts that bring shame and invite ridicule to an individual, sport and the entire nation is certainly a price nobody would want to pay in lieu of illegitimate, easy money making.