Fixing: SA games probed?

2010-08-30 13:50
Proteas celebrate (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Two matches involving South Africa may be investigated after reports that some 80 Pakistan cricket fixtures are being considered “suspicious” for match-fixing reasons.

VIDEO: News of the World match-fixing sting

This follows an admission by Mazhar Majeed, the British property developer and sports agent arrested at the weekend on suspicion of rigging the fourth Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s, that he had been running a racket with seven players for some two and a half years.

London newspaper The Daily Telegraph’s website reported on Monday that the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit would study all 82 Tests or one-day matches played by Pakistan in the period Majeed claimed they were being manipulated.

Pakistan have played several major cricketing nations in that time, although fixtures against South Africa have been more scarce than most – the countries have met in two matches at respective ICC World Twenty20 tournaments (2009 in England and earlier this year in the West Indies).

But they presumably still fall within the catalogue of matches to be tooth-combed as the sport faces another damaging chapter in its expanding legacy of impropriety.

Neither contest, it must be said, has yet aroused any special attention for reasons of credibility.

In the first, the semi-final of the World T20 at Trent Bridge last year, eventual champions Pakistan won a tight affair by seven runs, as the Proteas fell short of their target of 150 on a clearly slowing, deteriorating pitch.

Pakistan prevailed again in the Super Eights phase of the follow-up event in the Caribbean in May, this time by 11 runs in St Lucia.

Included in the winning team’s ranks then were three players who have been implicated in the very recent “no-balls to order” scandal at Lord’s: fast bowler Mohammad Amir, wicketkeeper/batsman Kamran Akmal and batsman Salman Butt, who also led Pakistan in the just-completed, controversy-clouded Test against England.

The Proteas last played Pakistan to a protracted degree in an away series in October 2007, winning a two-Test series 1-0 and claiming the one-day internationals 3-2 from a situation of 2-1 down.

The decisive final ODI at Lahore will be remembered for a startling Pakistani collapse when victory seemed theirs for the taking: the SA Cricket Annual 2008 observed: “South Africa managed to pull the match and the series out of the fire in astonishing fashion.

“The hosts had to score 34 runs off the final 10 overs, with six wickets in hand, only to throw it away.”

Given the present cloud over the Pakistani game, cynics are highly likely, of course, to contemplate some sense of double meaning in those last three words …

*South Africa are due to play Pakistan in all three major formats of the game in a few weeks, on the neutral turf of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, because strife-torn Pakistan presently does not stage any international cricket.

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