By Imran Khan
The early monsoons could really be a blessing
in disguise for the Asia Cup because the timing
of the tournament could not have been worse.
Never has the cricketing world been in so much
turmoil. The Justice Qayyum report has just been
released and unfortunately it has raised more
questions and doubts than clearing the air as
was generally expected. In fact the report has
prepared the ground for further revelations and
controversies. Already, Saleem Malik has
indicated that he will appeal against the decision
of the Pakistan Cricket Board. The former
captain remains adamant and his contention that
he has been made a scapegoat is a clear
indication of more damaging revelations to
follow. Could he mean that he is not going to sink
alone and take others with him?
The reaction of the Pakistani players to the
Justice Qayyum report, currently on a tour to the
West Indies, is still not known. If they are not
guilty of match fixing then they ought to be
incensed of the fines imposed on them. They
have not been banned and yet if they accept the
verdict they are damned forever. Moreover,
Saleem Malik's tape recording by the news of
the world sting operation has already reached
the ICC. How would the ICC investigate and
make of it? If the tapes are genuine then not only
the top Pakistani players stand implicated but
also some of the Australian team members who
played in the 1994 Singer Cup are alleged to be
involved in match fixing.
By the time the Asia Cup gets underway, the
ICC is expected to receive the Hanse Cronje's
inquiry report. The public pressure to take firm
action appears so intense that the ICC can no
longer push the issue under the carpet anymore.
My suspicion is that the way events are
unfolding, more damaging revelations are likely
in the coming weeks and months.
The Indian selectors by appointing Kapil Dev
as the team's manager despite Manoj
Prabhakar's media blitz has ensured that the
Indian team will be under the match fixing
spotlight. Asia Cup is just the type of tournament,
which could perfectly lend itself to match fixing.
Once a strong team has qualified for the
semi-final or finals then an irrelevant match could
easily be fixed.
I am convinced that whatever the implications
may be for individual players, the greatest
challenge confronting the organizers of the game
today is the restoration of the publics' confidence
in one day matches. Today, the cricket public
has absolutely no doubt that match fixing does
takes place. Understandably the public
confidence is shattered and at it's lowest ebb.
Never has the cricketing public been so
skeptical about watching cricket than it is now.
They will suspect every dropped catch, every
run-out, even no balls and wide balls. The
players too are going to be under tremendous
pressure as loosing a match could easily be
construed as part of a shady deal. The only silver
lining to the entire episode could very well be
that people become hesitant to bet on cricket
anymore. If that happens, the match fixing
revelations may easily turn out to be a blessing