Pakistan cricket moves forward from corruption..... [Daily Mail]
Pakistan cricket moves forward from corruption ... yet Butt and Kaneria remain stuck in past
Someone needs to tell Salman Butt and Danish Kaneria to get with the times.
Their protestations of innocence last week might have received official backing while the buffoonish Ijaz Butt was still in charge of the Pakistan Cricket Board. But the mood has changed – at least in the boardroom, if not yet on the streets. And, for that, the international game can be thankful.
Last week Butt was deported to Pakistan after serving seven months of his two-and-a-half-year sentence for his part in the Lord's no-ball scam of 2010. He immediately insisted that 'nothing ever practically happened in a match that was linked to any offer', and apologised only for 'failure to report' his suspicions about what was going on.
This, remember, is the man who was found guilty in court of 'conspiracy to cheat' (a unanimous decision by a jury at Southwark Crown Court) and of 'conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments' (a 10-2 majority verdict).
Kaneria, meanwhile, reckoned the life ban imposed upon him by the ECB for his grooming of Mervyn Westfield was 'unfair'. He explained: 'They don't have any proof against me. I don't know why they are saying this.'
Perhaps Kaneria didn't read the verdict of the ECB's Cricket Discipline Commission Panel, which concluded that he had 'shown no remorse' and was 'a grave danger to the game'. It added: 'We consider that in many respects the evidence of Danish Kaneria simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is plainly lies.'
Perhaps he did read it. And perhaps he was simply bearing in mind the words of the excellent Pakistani cricket journalist Osman Samiuddin in last year's Wisden: 'In Pakistan, never underestimate the power of denial and the vividness of delusion which stems from it.'
Butt and Kaneria can both play to the crowds if it makes them feel better. Yet Butt now has a criminal record and cannot set foot in the UK for the next decade, while the PCB have pledged to apply the ECB's ban on Kaneria to their own jurisdiction, give or take the outcome of his inevitable appeal.
This is progress – and it has taken a while to get there. Two years ago, the former chairman of the PCB Ijaz Butt decided he didn't like the vitriol aimed at his team in the wake of the Lord's Test and accused England of throwing the one-day international at The Oval. He later apologised. (Hey, mistakes happen.)
And yet Ijaz Butt's tactics were merely part of a proud tradition in which wrongdoing was swept under the carpet through a combination of arrogance, expediency and societal pressure.
Quite how different cricket's landscape would look now had Justice Qayyum not – by his own admission – grown starstruck while passing judgment on the likes of Wasim Akram ('not above board'), Waqar Younis (fined £1,200), Inzamam-ul-Haq (ditto) and Mushtaq Ahmed ('sufficient grounds to cast doubt'), is a matter of conjecture.
What is clear, though, is that all four men went on to assume important roles, either as a player, a coach – with the ECB, in the case of Mushtaq – or a commentator.
Last week, General Tauqir Zia – PCB chairman at the time of Qayyum – told PakPassion.net that he had considered ridding the side of these cricketers.
The General explained: 'I went to the President of Pakistan to say, "Look, I do not know much about Pakistan cricket because I've just worked there for three or four months. If you ask me, I'd like to get rid of all these characters."
'The practical man that he was, he asked: "Do you have the back-up squad?" At that time, I didn't have a back-up squad so most of them were called straight back. But since there was also only suspicion on some of those players, they were not proven.'
Emboldened by Qayyum's vacillations, then manhandled into line by a hopelessly politicised PCB, Zia thereby confirmed to future generations of Pakistani cricketers that a slapped wrist and an averted glance would be the worst they might expect. The culture was one in which decay was not so much managed as implicitly encouraged.
Was it any surprise that both Butt and Mohammad Asif felt confident of acquittal until the final moments of their trial at Southwark Crown Court last year? Or that Butt continues to behave like a man wronged? Or that Kaneria pleads a heady mix of ignorance and innocence?
They may still be assured of the support of nationalists and conspiracy theorists, but at least it seems they will no longer indulged by the PCB. So, amid all the weasel words of the last week, let's cheer for new PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf.
'Pakistan cricket has suffered enough and we don't want to take any further chances,' he said. 'We have a strict zero tolerance against the corrupt element.'
We will have to take him at his word.
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Last edited by MenInG; 26th June 2012 at 10:37.