As if the national humiliation we suffered at the hands of the tainted trio – Salman butt, Muhammad Amir and Muhammad Asif – was not enough, we now have fresh set of allegations against Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif of crooked dealings in PSL 2017.
Many saw it coming following Amir’s comeback. It goes without saying that if proven guilty, the duo should be handed exemplary punishments without an iota of leniency for bringing a bad name to the country as well as the nation’s favourite sport.
There is a slight glimmer of hope that back door diplomacy will not have its say and this time zero tolerance towards corruption will be transparently shown to all.
Many high-ranking and former cricket legends had warned of setting a bad example by allowing the convicted bowler to wear the green shirt again.
Heart-broken, but intuitive, fast bowler Shoaib Akhter tweeted:
Match-fixing allegations in PSL extremely gutting but honestly I saw it coming. If proven, it shud b non-negotiable. Guilty shud b punished.— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) February 10, 2017
Since Shoaib, like all of us, was extremely upset, there came another tweet from him, stating:
Soul of my beloved game n my country's image should not be compromised in d razzmatazz of PSL. We've already lost so much ground.— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) February 10, 2017
I am sorry to add, but the soul of national esteem is also hurt. Isn’t it?
Fuming and showing his pessimism towards the affairs in PCB, Sarfraz Nawaz said:
‘Such kinds of incidents cannot be avoided in Pakistan cricket because the PCB loves to keep tainted players around.’
You are so right Mr Nawaz.
The perplexing question is if strict punishment would really be enough to prevent such incidents in the future or do we need a comprehensive approach to address this disturbing trend in the sport.
While many are blaming the PCB for this pernicious incident, we must acknowledge that PCB had upright surveillance over the players and that is why the alleged have been caught very early on in the tournament.
I think the PCB also deserves credit for taking swift action of spotting corruption and sending the offenders back home, instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet to prevent reputational damage to PSL. We should not forget that in the past the board had episodes where it compromised discipline if the player is a performing one or someone with strong fanfare.
Issues relating to discipline and integrity have to be dealt with iron hand, without giving any consideration to performance, fanfare and political clout.
Cricket is a highly rewarding game so we should rule out the possibility of low incomes that may induce players to corruption. However, greed has no limits and that is why we see players indulging in corrupt practices despite having recognition, bright future and lucrative incomes.
The board needs to address this psyche and come forward with exemplary punishments if it is serious about getting rid of the mess.
The investigation is still underway and I pray that both players are absolved of all these charges and they come clean out of this, if they have not really done anything objectionable.