Possibility of Amir not bowling again is disappointing!

For the last one week, cricket has been in news for all the wrong reasons and nothing can be more damaging than bringing the game to disrepute for players who play it for the love of the game.

Though the allegations of match-fixing are not new to cricket but I was indeed shocked to hear the latest developments with regards to the alleged involvement of three Pakistan cricketers in spot-fixing.

Pakistan, unfortunately, has had a turbulent cricket history but just when their cricket seemed to be rising from the ashes of mystery surrounding Bob Woolmer’s death, the attack on the Sri Lankan team and the subsequent cancellation of further cricket tours to the war ravaged country, this shocking incident happened.

Though I’d refrain myself to not jump the gun till the charges are proved but still the allegations are very damaging.

What disturbs me more is the involvement of hugely talented teenager Mohammad Amir in this whole controversy and perhaps it is enough to tell me that all is not well in the Pakistan team because an 18 year old kid could not have done anything wrong by himself.

I’d played international cricket when I was 26 and still I looked up to the seniors for every single thing. I would follow their work ethics, their discipline and their conduct. They were the role models who unknowingly ensured that I toed the line with regard to team discipline. But here, it seems the problem is more deep rooted.

Also, I’m pinning my hopes on Aamer to be the next big thing in the pace department. It has been a sheer treat to watch him bowl in the last 12 months and if this controversy takes an ugly turn, the possibility of him not bowling again at the highest level is too disappointing to imagine.

Many people have asked me if it is this new generation’s lifestyle which has made youngsters vulnerable to the lure of money but I’m convinced that
the only factor which corrupts people is greed. And greed is not a poor man’s prerogative, for we have seen even the richest of men succumb to temptations.

Greed is apolitical and secular which cuts across all sections of society. So, whoever is working as a professional in an important post is vulnerable. It all depends on the individual’s ethics and principles and I’ve seen the poorest of men with very strong principles.

Coming back to this big controversy, I still recall the day when I first heard about this match-fixing a decade back and it was too unconvincing for me to believe.

Hansie Cronje was one of the players who were hugely respected for playing the game in the right spirit, and when the news of South African, Pakistan and Indian players being involved in match-fixing broke out, I felt cheated, both as a player and as a fan.

It was the betrayal of my trust and faith of the highest order. And I believe that once the faith is breached, it must be restored before moving forward. You simply can’t brush it under the carpet and take the avid followers for granted.

Though the impact of this allegation can be largely demeaning, but for me this is a golden opportunity for the administrators to rid this beautiful game from the ugly claws of match-fixing. Once found guilty, the players should be banned for life, their records should be erased as if they never played cricket and also ensure that they never earn a single penny from the game. PCB has failed to take stern actions in the past and that’s what has led to this grave situation where as many as 82 matches are being probed.

There are people who seem to be in rush to come to a conclusion on this and have even accused the IPL and players involved to be part of this plague but I can say with my chin up that I’ve never heard about this while playing and I have never been approached by anyone to do anything which interrupted the game to run its natural course.

As far as others are concerned, I firmly believe that it’s not fair to paint everyone with the same brush. There’re still a lot of people, in fact majority of people, who play the game for the love of it. And for these men, game comes first and everything else follows. I belong to the same school of thought.

Zero tolerance to match-fixing, giving exemplary punishments and educating cricketers is the way forward. For cricket to become a global sport, ICC must fight this menace till the end.

(Aakash Chopra opened for India in 10 Tests, forming a potent all-Delhi combination with Virender Sehwag during India`s tour of Australia in 2003-04. He also made his mark as India`s last exceptional close-in fielder. He has also played over 130 first class matches. He writes columns for leading newspapers and websites. He also penned a book `Beyond the Blues`. Aakash`s Twitter feed is here http://twitter.com/cricketaakash)

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