Another act in sordid soap opera


One thing is obvious. There are no altruistic motives behind Mohammad Amir’s finally shunning the year-long obstinacy and deciding to come clean. He is the kid amongst the three offenders, all of 18 last year when his sin of bowling a preordered-by-the-bookie no-ball was revealed by the undeniable (since deceased) NOTW sting. Given his age, as is the custom, the judge in any case was likely to be lenient on him.
With this confession, that it’s the result of plea bargain is a no-brainer, he has made sure that he gets off even lighter. It may or may not result in resurrecting a career that was nipped in its infancy when the entire cricketing world was literally agog with this southpaw prodigy’s match-winning skill-set, comparing it, nay some even calling it a superior version of that once-in-a-life time phenomenon, Wasim Akram.
The latter was lucky, mightily so. He had survived the slur – only because the times were different, the ICC and the cricket boards were more benign, their bent of mind then tilted towards keeping things hush-hush. The thing that had saved Akram’s skin – and perhaps a score of his colleagues’, not to mention scores from other countries: a strong dose of patriotism. What inexorably tilted the scale was that Akram was a standout even amongst star performers.
Cricket boards, here or anywhere, have always been averse to squander such talent – regardless of the gravity of the offence or depravity in the digression. The driving force is opportunism: their own well-being emanates from the successes operators with such sublime skills obtain. Remember Shane Warne and his shenanigans, which included sharing info with shady characters and pocketing money for it, not to mention the lifestyle of a committed Vegas punter, were diligently kept under wraps by the egregious Cricket Australia for ages.
Its chagrin at the whistle blower was indeed a sight to behold. Whatever, Amir didn’t turn out to be as fortunate as his idol. Amir was definitely gullible and perhaps greedy too. Probably he was as intent on stuffing his bank account as he was keen on maintaining a high strike rate. Having been through the scare of a career-threatening stress fracture of the back at just 16, he must have been deeply aware of the abruptness with which he could be condemned to wilderness.
Highly impressionable, it could be said in his defence that he may have been coerced into the act by his skipper Salman Butt and other wily operators. Some of these characters have gone scot free, but not quite for the ICC’s sleuths are in hot pursuit and though they may not be dragged to court but their playing days are either over or indeed numbered.
Where does Amir go from here? There are so many variables, first the verdict itself in three weeks time. Would it let him walk with a rap on knuckle, or would he still have to serve a substantive sentence? There are other hurdles too. Whether the ICC would be merciful or severe to a talent so remarkable that he is not just an asset to the flagging fortunes of his native country but a great advertisement for the game itself too remains a point of conjecture.
It needs to be remembered that Michael Beloff, the chief of the ICC’s inquiry tribunal, was really incensed at the offending trio’s absolute lack of remorse. Whether that would be sufficiently remedied by Amir’s confession and what flows from it? A great deal also depends on how Ijaz Butt handles this delicate issue from here on. Yes, other countries have boards, we only have a chairman – and what a bull-in-a-china-shop ‘class’ act at that. None could have brought Pakistan cricket to such a wholesome sorry pass but him.
Without his characteristic hamfistedness, even this damning scandal may not have hurt Pakistan cricket as much, anyway. With him at the helm, the soap opera is likely to continue for some more, at the cost of Pakistan cricket. Meanwhile, the passionate and proud Pakistani cricket fan – deprived of action at home and divested of his pride – would continue to suffer and sulk like none other anywhere else in the world.