BBC Sport cricket

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Sunday, 29 August 2010 18:07 UK

Jonathan Agnew column

England were in sombre mood at a farical post-match presentation
England were in sombre mood at a farcical post-match presentation

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

The Lord's Test has been a disaster from a Pakistan perspective. It is their heaviest defeat of all time, and they now have an investigation into corruption hanging over them.

Somehow this tour has to continue, there is no choice but to go on. But I feel the Pakistan management must temporarily suspend the three people at the heart of these allegations.

How will people continue to react calmly if they see Mohammad Amir or Mohammad Asif bowling a no-ball in the Twenty20 international down in Cardiff next Sunday?

Their captain Salman Butt has been described as the ringleader of the gang, so he cannot carry on either.

I cannot see how they can now appear in either of the two Twenty20 matches or the five one-day internationals.

At least with veteran Shahid Afridi always due to return to the squad as captain for the final part of the tour, the problem of who leads them on the field is automatically resolved.

Pakistan cricket is not organised, administrators come and go, captains come and go and it's easy for people to lure young cricketers away

The investigation, for the good of cricket, has to be thorough and absolute. The game cannot afford for this to be swept under the carpet and if that means Pakistan, when this tour comes to an end, must serve a temporary exile from international cricket then so be it.

In the case of Amir, who is 18, it is terrible that a supremely talented youngster could be exposed to this. He is a delightful bowler with terrific skills. How sad it would be if it turns out his career is wrecked, but if anyone is involved in corruption he must be banned for life.

It should form the education of any international cricketer that yes, you can take the money and transform your life, but if you get into trouble then it's over. Cricket needs to take come down hard.

It is important that we realise this is not simply a Pakistan problem. Two players at Essex, one of them admittedly being the Pakistani Danish Kaneria, were arrested back in May for alleged spot-fixing.

And later that same month another county player who opted to remain anonymous contacted the game's authorities after being approached by an Indian businessman.

Any cricket that is televised on the Asian subcontinent, such as county cricket's Clydesdale Bank40 tournament, can be targeted by bookmakers.

But in Pakistan there seems to be a deliberate method in that a talented and naive individual is approached by these individuals and buttered up, flattered and given a present or two. Before he knows it he is totally, unwittingly lured into a trap.

Salman Butt
Pakistan's Test captain Salman Butt was one of those spoken to by police

Initially he will be asked to provide information about other players and so on, but it soon moves on and there are stories involving blackmail and threats. Players feel intimidated and it is hard to escape.

Pakistan cricket is not organised, administrators come and go, captains come and go. It's not a settled environment and it's easy for people to lure young cricketers away. The structure we take for granted here is not in place there.

They have tried to bring in central contracts to pay the players more and keep bookmakers away but these allegations suggest it has not worked.

There are so many awful things happening in Pakistan at the moment, with floods devastating the country.

The cricket team was something they could all cling to. The fans over there must have been terribly proud when they beat England at The Oval. It would be a tragedy if Pakistan's long-suffering fans find their trust has been misplaced.

I hope that 99.95% of the cricket I see is entirely genuine. It would be dreadful for people to get the impression that cricket is bent.

What is scary is that people can cast such huge sums of money on something as trivial as a no-ball. On the other hand, if that is what they are reduced to betting on it suggests that fixing the result of a match is less prevalent.

The atmosphere at Lord's was very sombre on Sunday. People are going to take a lot of persuading to buy tickets for the one-day matches because the whole issue of people watching cricket, and the amount they pay to watch it, is currently at stake.

England captain Andrew Strauss was completely grim-faced during a mocked-up presentation in the Long Room, and that whole episode was a farce. I don't know how anybody could be expected to put a smile on their face.

The achievements of England's players at Lord's - with particular mention to Stuart Broad, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann, who all go onto the honours board - will surely not be wiped from the record books.

Even if these allegations are proved, the deliberate no-balls would not have had any bearing on the outcome of the game. Unfortunately that's how these corrupt players comfort themselves.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Oliver Brett



Print Sponsor


see also
England finish off tarnished Test
29 Aug 10 |  England
Players have case to answer - ICC
03 Sep 10 |  England
Cricket's fight against fixing
29 Aug 10 |  Cricket
England v Pakistan photos
29 Aug 10 |  England


related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.