In his latest blog entry for PakPassion, Aamir Sohail addresses the topical issue of Spot Fixing and suggests that the problem can only be minimized and not totally eradicated.
The shocking revelations about the spot fixing issue were a wake up call for the ICC and for all Cricket Boards around the world. Although the Anti Corruption unit was formed in 2000, we still keep on hearing stories on a regular basis about match and spot fixing as well as other types of fixing in cricket.
This has become a challenge for the Anti Corruption Unit. They have to come up with some better ideas on how to combat these challenges and to look at the harsh realities of what is going on and to propose a strategy on how to minimise this corruption in cricket.
In order to do this, the ICC needs to involve ex cricketers like Rashid Latif and maybe Basit Ali who obviously understand the game and utilise their skills in this area. Both Latif and Basit have stood up against match fixing in the past and you have to get these guys on Board at the ACSU and get their input. Sarfraz Nawaz is another who has been very vocal about the menace of match fixing in international cricket and the International Cricket Council needs to sit down with them and listen to their ideas and thoughts. The ICC should be seen to be speaking to the likes of Basit, Rashid and Sarfraz and encouraging them to speak openly to them about fixing in cricket and also to be seen to be acknowledging the efforts of some of these ex cricketers in trying to stamp out corruption in cricket.
The ICC need to use the likes of Rashid Latif and make them role models for up and coming cricketers, instead of punishing players and HOPING that fixing from cricket is eradicated. Ex players like Latif need to be taken on board by the ICC, to guide young cricketers, as I don’t think punishments will be enough of a deterrent for some cricketers.
The ICC also need to take a look at their development program. Cricket is allegedly the second most popular sport in the world after football, yet look at the comparison in salaries of footballers and cricketers. Look at the difference between the salaries of professionals in both sports. When Alan Border, Malcolm Speed, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh conducted a review of Australian cricket they emphasised a key point and that was the need to look at the salaries of Australian cricketers both at an international level and on the domestic circuit.
If the ICC want to develop the game of cricket in countries like Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and others, they should not forget about the major test playing nations too. Look at the decline in the standard of domestic cricket in the West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. The ICC should not forget about these countries too, they need to invest more money in the test playing nations whose domestic cricket standards are in decline. The ICC should worry first about the test playing nations, not the nations who are at the lower end of the cricketing ladder and assist the test playing nations with the appropriate finances and the cricketing expertise.
The standardising of salaries at first class level and international cricket should be a major priority for the ICC. Also the ICC need to dictate the standard salaries of cricketers around the world playing domestic cricket, rather than leaving this decision to the various cricket boards. There should be benchmarks in international cricket, a salary minimum that is decided by the ICC and they ensure that each Board is paying their international cricketers at least that benchmark. This in turn will lead cricketers to be honest and to respect the system. Once the players start to respect the system then you will eradicate things like spot fixing. If cricketers around the world do not respect the system then things like spot fixing will NEVER stop.
Regarding the trio who are serving prison sentences in England, I don’t for a minute believe that they are the only cricketers involved in this and I don’t for a minute believe that this is just a Pakistani problem. We keep hearing of other cricketers allegedly being involved, because the temptation is there, no doubt about it. Fixing in cricket will not be removed just by lectures delivered to players or by banning some cricketers or putting some cricketers behind bars. It is not going to deter everybody. There have been other cricketers banned in the past, Salim Malik, Mohammad Azharrudin, Hansie Cronje but did that act as a deterrent for others? No it did not.
Look around the world, away from cricket, every day there are so many people fined or jailed for crimes, but does that act as a deterrent for everybody? No it doesn’t. Is the world a crime free place? No it isn’t. Crimes keep on being committed.
The Pakistan Cricket Board are not blameless in this situation either and they need to investigate this thoroughly. In the past cricketers in Pakistan would get permanent jobs in the departments and players who played for Associations would just get their daily allowances. In 2003, the payment for a cricketer became 25,000 rupees for a first class game and that time I was involved in writing a document with General Tauqir Zia. In this document, we stated that the income from television rights, the ICC and international tournaments should enable a first class cricketer in Pakistan to earn 30 Lakh (3 million) Pakistani Rupees a season. We estimated that the total number of cricketers who at that time fell into that category was between 150 to 200.
By 2011, due to television rights deals, marketing, sponsors, various international tournaments, the Pakistan Cricket Board should have been in a position to pay a first class cricketer 70 Lakh (7 million) Pakistani Rupees per season. Unfortunately, that document we prepared “disappeared” and was subsequently ignored and the money was spent by the Board where it was not needed!
The ICC should, therefore, work closely with the Boards and ensure that income that is being generated and given to the respective Boards is channelled into the right areas by the cricket Boards for the development and good of the game.
The PCB also needs to look closely at their finances and where they are investing their income. They need to look at the economics of cricket in Pakistan, not just spend the funds on ill thought out and rushed ideas.
Nowadays in Pakistan, first class cricketers are not offered permanent jobs in departments, instead they receive a contract. On average a cricketer in Pakistan retires at 35, now what is he going to do in the 25 years up to age 60 when he starts to receive a pension? It comes back to my point about respecting the system and being able to be strong and say no to the temptations that are out there for cricketers.
I also suggest that where gambling is illegal in some countries, make it legal where possible. Yes there could be difficulties but it needs to be looked into.
Even with the implementation of some of the ideas that I am putting forward and the new reforms, fixing in my opinion can only be minimised, but not eradicated from cricket.
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