Spot-fixing not confined to Pakistan cricket

Karachi: Pakistan’s former captain, Imran Khan fears that the menace of spot-fixing in cricket could be a much more malignant problem then it is being perceived to be after the allegations and suspension of three Pakistani players in England.

Imran said in a television interview that he believed that spot-fixing/betting might be going on uninterrupted in many countries and was not just a problem confined to Pakistan cricket.

Test captain, Salman Butt and new ball bowlers, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir are under suspension by the International Cricket Council after a British tabloid, the “News of the World” last week claimed that the players’ agent Mazhar Majeed had paid bribes to the trio to do spot-fixing in the Lord’s Test against England.

Imran said that the ICC and other cricket authorities needed to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter in the world of cricket.

“I still fear that there is no way to stop this problem of betting and spot fixing. How can anyone tell that something is wrong if a batsman plays a maiden over or if a bowler bowls a no-ball,” the cricketer-turned-politician said.

He pointed out that even in the present case, it was not the ICC anti-corruption and security unit that had unearthed the case, but it came to the fore because of the media.

“We really don’t know the scale of this problem at the moment. There are only allegations against our players but one thing I know is that if Scotland Yard is involved then they will reach a fair conclusion,” he said.

Imran said that in 1994 when the match fixing accusations first broke out in Pakistan, he had gone to the PCB office in Gaddafi stadium and told the officials to take exemplary action against the players alleged to have indulged in match-fixing.

“I told them this is the time to root out this disease. I think that perhaps if at that time the board had taken decisive action we would never have seen this problem emerge again in our cricket,” he said.

Imran, however, also made the point that bookmakers and betting in cricket was nothing new and had been going on for years now.

“And the trail always leads to India because the real betting mafia operates out of Mumbai. I remember when we used to tour India we used to hear a lot of about how players had been approached by bookmakers to fix matches,” he said.

He also recalled how in 1988 during a tournament in Sharjah, a bookie had called him up late night and informed him that four of his players had been brought by bookies and would underperform in next day’s final.

“I just went out next day and warned the team I was keeping a close watch on them and if I even suspected someone had not given his best he would not only never play for Pakistan again but be put behind bars,” he said.