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Pakistan Cricket: Allegations Infinitum

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Allegations seems unending for the besieged Pakistani cricket players. There has been a state of utter confusion and mayhem in Pakistani cricket for the last two weeks. First there were allegations of spot fixing by the infamous London tabloid News of the World. Now, the same tabloid is claiming that a fourth player is also involved in the ongoing Scotland Yard investigations.

Yasir Hameed, an opening batsman, has allegedly told the same tabloid that almost every match has been fixed by some players of the Pakistan cricket team. He has since denied that he even met the Mazher "fake sheikh" Mahmood, let alone giving him an interview.

The recent controversy has certainly thickened the plot. Whatever maybe the outcome of the investigations and the International Cricket Council (ICC) inquiry, one thing is clear: the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB) has failed badly, yet again.

There are conflicting reports on whether the players were involved or whether they have been framed by a British media in cahoots with the Indian bookies, a claim which has been rebutted by the ICC. Amid this mayhem and imbroglio, PCB chairman Ijaz Butt is absent from the scene. Pakistan's high commissioner in the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, is giving one statement after another. The recent one being a scathing attack on the ICC regarding the removal of Amir's name from the ICC awards list.

Reports have already emerged that some Pakistani career diplomats are trying to tame down the high commissioner, who is a political appointee. One wonders why the PCB chief, who should be at the helm of the affairs, is invisible on the cricketing radar. He already has a tattered reputation and the standing committee on sports of the Pakistani parliament has already threatened to resign if no action is taken against him and other bigwigs of the PCB.

There were also some allegations of bias as the PCB had not included cricketers from Karachi, a city that has produced some of the best players; the claim has been rebuffed by PCB.

Betting allegations are not new in cricket and they are not confined to Pakistani players. Many Indian cricketers have been found guilty of this crime and some were even banned for life. Australian and British players also have a smudged past. The good thing is that they have cleaned their house in recent years but Pakistan cricket is still tolerating the rotting filth in its backyard. A country with immense talent and a glorious path should not fall this low.

Imran Khan, the ace captain who led Pakistan to its only world cup victory in 1992, has already called for a great purge. Others are also voicing their concern over the current state of affairs. It is high time that stern action must be taken to clean cricket and increase transparency. PCB is still a government controlled body and thus vulnerable to nepotism, corruption and political maneuvering. Perhaps it's time to follow the patterns on which other countries' cricket boards work: on a strictly corporate level with no government influence. It looks ignominious that a high commissioner went on to say that he would "banish" players if found guilty. He simply has no role to play, or, for that matter, neither does the president. We cannot hit the rock bottom any further.

P.S. On a positive note, Pakistan has been in the tennis news for the first time in its history. Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi has reached the finals of both mixed doubles and men's doubles in the US Open. He has lost the mixed doubles final but there are high hopes for the men's doubles where he has teamed up with an Indian Rohan Bopanna.

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