“There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house”
Though the base of this poem really depicts an incident that occurred between England and Scotland during the passage of time which apparently ended in a different manner, the phrase “crooked man” or is it “crooked men?” really gave me the impetus to talk on this subject this week.
Talking about the Galle Test match I was really wondering how a side who were just short of about ninety plus runs for victory with more than half the side still to don pads with a whole day to spare could just fall flat on their faces. Oh! Mums the word…..nobody is guilty until it is proved otherwise. So I kept my cool.
Meanwhile the Indian website “thatscricket” reported The ghost of match-fixing has come back to haunt Pakistan cricket, said former chief selector Abdul Qadir, who suspects that some Pakistan team players might be involved in it considering the "strange" manner in which the team lost the Test and ODI series in Sri Lanka.
The article said -- Pakistan lost the Test series 0-2 and is trailing 0-3 in the five-match One-day series. Qadir, one of the greatest leg-spinners of his era told a newspaper that he suspected something fishy in the way the team has lost.
"Look I don't buy the fact that the very team that just five weeks ago won the Twenty20 World Cup is performing so badly that it is virtually losing every match in Sri Lanka. This has been one of our worst tours to Sri Lanka," Qadir said.
"After following this series I suspect some players could be involved in match fixing and if a high level inquiry committee is formed everything will become crystal clear," he added.
He said cricket had not become so unpredictable that a team that won the World Cup would perform so poorly.
"It is strange the way we are losing matches. When the bowling clicks the batsmen don't perform. When the batsmen perform the bowler's don't perform. Something is wrong somewhere," Qadir said.
Then news agency Reuters reported “The Pakistan Cricket Board has informed the game’s governing body (ICC) that they suspect bookmakers are staying on the same floor as the Pakistan players in the team hotel in Colombo.
Salim Altaf, the Pub’s chief operating officer, told Reuters that the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit of the ICC had a representative in Sri Lanka who was looking into it.
‘He will obviously report back to the ICC and I see this taking some time. We will wait for his report,’ he said.
Pakistan lost their three-match test series 2-0 and have lost the first three games of their five-match, one-day series too.
ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd confirmed that the body was aware of the issue at the hotel. "We can confirm the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit is aware of the matter and will deal with it as appropriate."
In the same melee one also cannot forget that almost eleven Kookaburra cricket balls went out of shape – a very high percentage for a three Tests series and some balls were as old as only three overs. In reaction to this a much disturbed Pakistani coach Intikab Alam lamented that whenever the balls were changed strangely it worked for Sri Lanka.
Wait….wait! Please do not jump to conclusions, the ICC’s Anti Corruption unit is well equipped to handle situations of this nature and it will not be very long when the truth is revealed.
Match fixing is as old as man kind. It is said that even the Olympians of the days prior to the modern history were also charged of indulging in “crooked” actions for the want of interested parties. At the same time I remember reading the novel “stone Danny Fisher” and how the hero of the novel was forced to take the plunge by interested parties.
Why did cricket lose a man of the calibre of Hanse Cronje – a person whom we thought was above board? To say the least that is the very manner that Cronje carried himself. Then I remember once interviewing the great Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin. The likeable Azharuddin a much God fearing man hoped everything good for the Indian team “God willing” while on tour in Sri Lanka during that conversation. Ironically both these great cricketing characters lost their credibility just lured by the greed of other “crooked” people who leave no stone unturned just to make an extra buck.
Talking of no stone unturned even the death of former Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer just the day after the sub-continent giant was unceremoniously thrown out of the last World Cup in the West Indies was initially shrouded with bookie and fixing charges and still the real reason for his demise is not known.
Coming back home it was not very long ago that two of Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketing sons – one a great batsman and other who calls himself the ‘paragon of virtue’ were under scrutiny from the ICC for match fixing for their involvements during a Lankan tour of India and it is learned that the book is still not closed and may be re-opened anytime in the future.
Match fixing is like a cancer. It knowingly plagued global sports like Boxing, Basketball, Tennis, soccer besides cricket the game we in the Indian sub-continent love.
Then we can take a look at the other side of the coin. The lure of money does not stop at match fixing in cricket. We also can talk of the lure of the IPL millions and how it has affected the cricketing brethren in the world. We just heard that Cricket New Zealand had to rearrange their international tie against Australia to make way for the individual players to join the IPL band wagon. Even in Sri Lanka, once an entire tour of England had to be cancelled because most of the players that matters already had signed up contracts with the Indian Premier League tournament.
Even the West Indian cricket was not spared with the lure of money. The Caribbean side which once crowned themselves as the kings of cricket were thrashed blue and black by the Bangladeshi minnows as the entire senior lot went on strike demanding more pay.
So, the lure of money or the ‘money evil’ is not going into a long rest just because the ICC anti corruption unit bashes a greedy or a hapless cricketer or two. What they should look at is a more comprehensive plan that would keep the cricketers a contended lot within the official framework.
If not for the fact as long as man is just a man, and among them will live those crooked people who continue to convert virtue into stupidity followed by shame.