Friday, September 17, 2010

In the 'Spot'light

I don’t know why I never wrote about the spot fixing issue. I had accepted the fact that throwing away a match for the sake of a few million dollars was something that the game had to accept – perhaps even legalize. So when I was asked on Twitter why I hadn’t written about the Champion’s League T20, I didn’t know what to say. I told the guy that I’d probably club spot fixing with the tournament and make it some a crazy rant of a frustrated cricket fan.
I remember my brother and I discussing Mohammed Aamir when he played the series in Australia. He was a tall, lanky, teenage kid who could bowl consistently at 90 mph – a sight that is regular in Pakistan cricket. He said that the kid looked excellent. And both of us said that he’ll probably throw some matches away. What we didn’t know was that he’d do it so early in his career.
You look at the Pakistani side and wonder why these guys are a bunch of talented, but directionless kids. They had an Imran, who is probably Pakistan’s greatest captain. But after that, they’ve had nobody. There have been busts of brilliance like they showed in the 1999 World Cup, a few Sharjah tournaments and whenever they’ve played India, but what is the other good that has come out of the side? If there isn’t match fixing, there is division within the team over religious differences.
Now if I drew parallels with the current Indian side, I wouldn’t call most of the players our team the best of role models, but I know one thing is certain: they won’t throw away a match. Not for anything else. Like Sunil Gavaskar said in an article recently, the stakes are too high for an Indian player in case he’s caught. The media will destroy him before the court does; the advertisers will take away his endorsements and his IPL contract will get terminated. The last two, of course, is more money than what the Pakistani cricketer would ever dream of even in a spot fixing case. There could be a one-off player who may be involved, like the recent report suggests, but I wouldn’t think it’s one of the bigger names in the country. It sounds more like a Grade C-level player.
Pakistan’s role in this spot fixing controversy has ‘tarnished the nation’, according to Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani. But still there seems to be no improvement in the situation. Asif is seeking asylum in the United Kingdom; Aamir is being pitied and labeled as the kid who was in wrong company. Initially, I came from that school of thought, but now I feel that if he’s 19 years old, he is an adult and is free to know the difference between who is a good friend and who is not. Bottom like, if he’s guilty, he should be banned. I’d feel sorry that a great talent went to waste.

What I find incredible is that these investigations have brought out a lot of murk about the IPL. It already looked shady when you’d see all the players going for after-match parties. And now, you have this.
So I find it ridiculous that the CL-T20 is even happening. Funnily, unlike the IPL, which I would watch at my old office with other colleagues, I don’t know or care what’s happening here. I’m not reacting to a Mumbai Indians loss or a Chennai Win. I don’t know who is in the XI of each side and only look up things because of a client we operate for at work, which wants Champion’s League quizzes and player profiles.
However, I think I’ll start watching the test series against SA whenever it begins. It should be fun, I hope. 

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