Colin Bryden

Cricket's heart of darkness

2010-08-30 14:05
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden

Nearing the end of a holiday in England, which had nothing to do with sport other than playing golf with my son, I popped into a newsagent to buy a couple of Sunday newspapers. On the way out I spotted the tabloid News of the World and a huge headline, CAUGHT! I turned around, bought that newspaper too and read with horrified fascination the damning story of corruption in the Pakistan cricket team.

The first nine pages of the newspaper were devoted to the story, which was backed by photographs and video evidence.
An undercover reporter had trapped a fixer and alleged player agent, who, once he had been paid wads of English pounds, could not resist bragging about his ability to make direct contact with players and influence what happened in matches.
Proof was provided by the pre-arranged no-balls delivered by Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif during the Test match at Lord's.
The exposé was so comprehensive that the facts of the matter seemed beyond dispute, with Pakistan's fresh-faced young captain, Salman Butt, fingered as a co-conspirator.
Apart from being a sickening blow to those who love cricket, the exposé was embarrassing to the International Cricket Council. The much-vaunted Anti-Corruption Unit, once headed by Lord Condon and now by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, both former senior policemen, has soaked up millions of dollars without, to my knowledge, exposing a single corrupt cricketer. Yet one undercover reporter was able to get almost immediate access into what can only be described as a cricketing heart of darkness.
When I checked on the ICC website while writing this article there was no mention of the scandal on the home page. I followed a link to "Anti-Corruption" and a further link to "Reports". There were two reports there, both dating back to 2001.
What was the reaction of the ICC to Sunday's revelations? Surprise, surprise, it was wait and see. They will assist the police but because it is now a matter for a police investigation they will make no further comment.
How appallingly lily-livered is that? If they had taken the trouble to read the full report in the News of the World they should at the very least have slapped immediate suspensions on the named players until the investigations are complete.
Instead they allow the game to drift on with its reputation in tatters.

Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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