Need for better detectives

By Muhammad Asif Khan

Money and corruption go hand in hand and cricket is a game in which a lot of money is involved. So corruption cannot be ruled out. Every now and then the resurfacing of corruption scandals is indicative of the fact that the game had continuously been under the shadow of this menace even when there were no reports of fixing.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) formed the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) back in 2000 with an idea to put a lid on the malpractice, but fixing has continued ever since. It means that there is some thing wrong in the methodology which is being practiced by the ICC and it needs to be altered.

ACSU is manned by ex-police officials who must have been brilliant in their respective fields, but cricket is a different ball game altogether.

The ACSU’s officers can keep watch on players’ off-the-field movements, but detecting a dubious act by an individual on the field is next to impossible. If a batsman deliberately scores slowly then a detective cannot figure that out, but probably an ex-cricketer would smell a rat in the process. One proof of the ineffectiveness of the ACSU is the fact that the body has not so far unearthed a wrongdoing on its own.

They take action only after something wrong has been exposed by newspapers or television channels. Just recall the infamous over-step by Mohammad Amir in 2010. It remained undetected until the sting operation. Let me quote a few more examples here. In the World Cup 2011 match between Australia and Zimbabwe on February 21, 2011, Australia managed to score just 28 runs in the first 10 overs, and later went on to post a winning total of 262.

I am not saying that something must have been wrong in that match, but the question remains: can it be noticed by a detective who is not related to the field of cricket?

Another example is the World Cup match between India and Australia on February 15, 2003. India were at 26/1 in the first 6 overs and after 15 overs their score was 45/4. Wasn’t it strange? It could be pre-designed but again nothing could be said with absolute certainty. The above two examples are amongst many which might have been noticed by cricket experts.

So what should the ICC do? They have distributed literature amongst players, empowered member boards to establish their own anti-corruption units, etc. But still there is room for improvement.

Countless endeavours by the ICC are there but what they have not done so far is to encourage those who want to speak against this wide-spread menace.

Who doesn’t know former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif and his efforts against match-fixing but did the ICC take him seriously? He wrote a letter to the apex body in 2003, but was not taken aboard in putting in place a better mechanism.

There are other examples too. Former fast bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz also claimed to have briefed the ACSU officials in the past but to no avail.

Therefore, for the sake of this game and its integrity, the governing body needs to come up with an out-of-the-box solution. By only admitting the reality, the ICC is actually showing its helplessness. They are in charge of the game, so they are the ones who need to take charge. Otherwise the recurrence of unpleasant events would continue.

 
 
The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif
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