David Miller: Did Pakistan Throw the Cricket?
Deliberately Lose the Cricket?
And Even If They Did,
Take Nothing Away From the Black Caps.
If sacked Pakistan cricket coach Javed Miandad is correct, and it is proven that members of his team were guilty of match fixing on the recent tour of New Zealand, then it is another serious blow to the credibility of the game. Match fixing is a black cloud that has hung over cricket for several years, touched most of the test playing nations and these fresh allegations can only do further damage. However while it is the image and reputation of cricket that is suffering, there is no reason why New Zealand Cricket or the national team should feel that their recent victories are in any way diminished.
It is unfortunate for the Black Caps that Pakistan has been one of those countries that have been haunted by match fixing and has been for the past six years. A judicial inquiry banned former skipper Salim Malik and Ataur Rehman for life after finding them guilty last year and fined Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam ul-Haq, Saeed Anwaar, Mustaq Ahmed and Akram Raza, all of whom played on the recent tour of New Zealand. It could also be said that the nature of the Pakistani defeats could be construed as suspicious. In his allegations, Miandad has claimed that the Pakistani batsmen were getting out one after the other in both the test and one day internationals and that after posting a total of 285 runs in the final one day match, the Pakistani bowlers, all world class and with vast experience, bowled a very wayward line. Anyone who watched the matches would not disagree with this, especially in the case of pace bowler Shoab Acktar. However this but it does not necessarily mean that the results where a foregone conclusion before play commenced and that anything should be taken away from the Black Caps.
Following his axing as national coach, Miandad told the media that, “enough is enough. I was silent just for the country’s sake, but now I must come out in the open. We have video and audio footage that can prove we lost to New Zealand due to match fixing”, and he has urged the PCB to launch an inquiry.
If there no inquiry is made on the part of the International Cricket Council and its anti corruption unit, then both the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board appear guilty of attempting a cover up or at the very least brushing the whole incident under the carpet. The Pakistan Cricket Board has already stated that it has no intention of following up Maindad’s claims. PCB chairman Tauqir Zia has stated that the board’s probe will only examine the fitness, attitude and look at why the players performed below par. In a statement, Zia claimed that, "Miandad has made no official mention of match-fixing, so there is no need to launch investigations only on media reports".
For Javed Miandad it is now a case of ‘put up or shut up’ and if he is in possession of the video and audio footage, or has knowledge as to how light can be shed upon it, then it is the time for him to do so. In making the claims, he has not only brought the Pakistan cricket side into disrepute, but also added to the woes of the game itself and has overshadowed what was a resounding test win for New Zealand. It is unfortunate that this is now the case whether he produces the evidence or not. The only difference is that if he does, then the cloud over Pakistan and international cricket grows even darker.
New Zealand Cricket operations manager John Reid has described the allegations as “a kick in the guts” for the game and is saddened by them and he also claims that, “its extremely disappointing. Not only do I think the game is adversely effected but I have a lot of sympathy for our players and management who went through a difficult injury- ravaged summer, worked hard, achieved a terrific result and now the gloss has been taken away from that”.
It is understandable that Reid would feel this way, but the gloss has not been taken away from the New Zealand win, and even if the allegations are proven correct, then the gloss will remain. The New Zealand team played to their potential and came away from the series with a win in the one-day tournament and a drawn test match after a difficult and often woeful summer. Even if the opposition was deliberately below par there is no discredit to them in anyway. History will still record these victories as such and if any sports person or team that starts a match prepared to lose then it is they who are flawed. Either the system that produces such players is defective as it is corrupt or there is a flawed element to the psychological make up of the players and officials. If this is the case then all credibility and respect for those players, national team and infrastructure is lost and extremely hard to recover.
It is unlikely that Miandad will produce the ‘evidence’ to substantiate his claims and even if he does, it is the Pakistanis who will be the losers. As for New Zealand, the Balck Caps simply need to put this incident behind them and build on what was an excellent end to a difficult summer in Sharjah.
Footnote. This column chose to write on a different subject other then the US spy plane landing in China given all the attention it has received over the past week, but there is one thought to leave you with. Maybe it is not such a bad thing that the New Zealand government wants to downgrade our military. At least we can be assured that if one of our Orion’s lands in Chinese territory it will be returned within the hour. In fact it is likely that the Chinese military will be on the phone to ours within minutes begging their NZDF counterparts to come and get rid of it.
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