Pakistan and ICC – Friends or Foes?
by Ahmed Nadeem

Player:Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Asif
Event:Pakistan in England 2010

DateLine: 3rd November 2010


We read that Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer are unhappy with ICC's handling of their case and that Pakistani broadcast media is still doubting them, asking rather inane questions on return from the Dubai hearing.


This indicates how media in Pakistan really works, seemingly it is only good at criticising and creating “Breaking News”. The local media is giving coverage of this issue even more than the ICC itself! A glance at the main news displayed in ICC’s news section suggests that they don’t consider this issue very important.


Another peeve I have heard from Pakistani fans is that our media failed to give Abdul Razzaq enough well-deserved coverage and praise after his dazzling innings which has helped lift much of the gloom surrounding Pakistan cricket today. One may fairly question: if we criticise when mistakes are made then we ought to be bold enough to encourage the heroes when they achieve a distinction.


As a passionate cricket-loving Nation we consider ourselves experts about every aspect of cricket, we discuss cricket all the time and for us, just playing good cricket is not enough, we want our team to win every match.


Perhaps it is this passion which causes us, so easily, to cast doubts on players or the whole team as soon as they suffer a defeat without appreciating that there may be as good or better players players in the opposing team. The innings played by Michael Hussey against Pakistan in world Cup T20 2010 was something special, so rather than admiring his talent, our experts were found discussing why Saeed Ajmal was chosen to bowl the last over of the match.


In the present day broadcast media in Pakistan, every anchor presenting a sports show on any of the dozens of TV channels, considers it his/her divine right to criticise any action taken by the cricket board, but what is missing is any vestige of serious back up supported with facts, figures or logic to justify a plausible debate.


Whenever allegations or accusations are thrown at our players or officials, local media and some publicity seeking disgruntled 'experts' try their level best to prove or justify those allegations as being correct at any cost. They often cross the norms of fair play and ethics without even thinking out the implication of their actions in the long run. In this modern age of 'cut and paste', one can only hope they realise how easily their comments can be quoted or manipulated by 'scandal hungry' tabloids in the international media.


The writer hopes our media may understand that sensationalising an unproven allegation, be it about spot-fixing, poor shot selection, poor bowling or the loss of a match; after a certain stage, does not remain restricted to the player, team, event or match but often becomes a serious issue of the Nation’s pride.


Recently, a leading sports journalist, in an article in the magazine section of one of the major Pakistan newspapers tried his best to prove our players are and always were involved in every match fixing or spot fixing scandal they were accused of. Alas! What may one say about such a journalist - traitor or simply daft - when and if some other author decides to quote his words, will he bother to distinguish or try to evaluate the veracity of the statements written by this particular journalist?


One could easily allege or discuss the probability that the sports journalist may have been carrying a grudge or was out on some personal agenda – would that be fair and ethical? However, his story will certainly provide even more ammunition to those who are out there hunting for scandalous news about Pakistan and its cricket.


Let us hope our media will wake up and from now on, at least, consider Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Muhammad Asif innocent until proven guilty.


The way things have shaped up since the accusation of "spot fixing" and considering the fact that according to British Law (the country where the alleged offence happened) every suspect and even a terrorist must be charged within 14 days or be released. The mere fact that British Police failed to charge the accused after such high profile media coverage, we could say 'maybe' or even say 'surely' this was because CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) realised they did not have a convincing enough case against the trio which could be proven in court.


Thus when we read Salman Butt and Mohammad Aamer demanding the ICC brings up details of the charges, one can’t really shun them as they sound pretty confident they will be able to defend the charges successfully.


I believe ICC's role is not just to hand out punishments to players time and time again, they are also the custodians of the game and reported threats to expel the 6th most populous country from world cricket, do not seem a very clever idea.


Why is ICC still hesitating after over two months of the incident? Why are they not bringing in charges against the accused? Cricket fans have the right to know what is ICC are waiting for and how much longer will this investigation last? Surely, the ICC must also realise this uncertainty is not doing cricket much good especially with a mega event round the corner?


On 30 August 2010, while talking on Australian radio about the allegations involving Pakistan team members, the ex-ICC chief, Malcolm Speed said, "It looks as though it is endemic that several of the team members are involved and have been for some time. So perhaps they need a rest. It looks a fairly compelling case."


Unless we assume he is biased and simply discard his statement, what he has said does hold its own credence, after all he was the Chief of ICC and may still have contacts within who could have informed him about the actual case.


All said and done, where is that compelling case and why is it taking so long?


Every Pakistani supporter and cricket lover round the world is still waiting for the drop scene on this issue as it has been lingering on and the game of cricket is hanging in a balance.

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2010 Ahmed Nadeem)


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