I wrote a piece that was published in www.sportshero.com. Check it out and comment:
The verdict on the spot fixing scandal has been good for the game. For the first time, banning a player has become secondary and imprisoning those guilty will wake those who think that they could get away from fixing matches.
Having said that, you have to feel for a player representing Pakistan. Pakistani society is divided into the very rich and the very poor. Imran Khan was the last Pakistani cricketer to have had a foreign degree. The average Pakistani player is a very talented kid, who can destroy a bowling attack or can dismantle the opposition with genuinely quick bowling. There is no formal education given to these kids. It’s only about cricket, as it is their only bread and butter.
Harsha Bhogle tweeted yesterday about the importance of education for a cricketer. He elaborated on how most of these cricketers don’t know how to deal with fame and glory once they play for Pakistan. When you read his biography on Mohammad Azharuddin, you know what he means. Azharuddin was banned by the ICC from playing any international cricket because of his alleged involvement with bookmakers and fixing matches. Azhar grew up in Hyderabad in a lower middle-class family and became one of the best players in the world. However, in his biography, Bhogle cites how Azhar loved living a lavish life. Azhar’s defence was that he never had these luxuries as a child, so he was making full use of the money he was making.
A similar tale can be said about the Pakistani cricketers. They’re young. And when you’re young, you’re rash. You think you know everything and think that you can get away with murder because you have the reach and the money. Unfortunately, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir never knew that this decision would go against them. Now with investigations continuing, we don’t know whose name will crop up.
Here’s where the PCB needs to start focusing on its players and not treating them poorly. They should give them more sponsorship deals and endorsements, so that they earn extra money apart from the money they make from playing international cricket. These sponsorships should be such that even if a player is offered to throw away a match, he should turn around and say he makes enough money from cricket and endorsements. This is where the BCCI has managed to ensure that its players do not throw away a match. It’s simple economics: if an Indian player is found guilty, the losses he makes from losing everything – endorsements, match fees and IPL deals – is far greater than what they will make from fixing a match.
Maybe the ICC needs to talk to the PCB. Maybe the PCB needs to act. Maybe this will change the way cricket is played.
Unfortunately till then, it will only be a maybe.