Cricketer-turned-commentator Ramiz Raja believes allowing the players involved in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal to return gave way to the recent corruption scandal in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Two Islamabad United players, Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, were suspended on Friday due to alleged fixing claims, with PSL chairman Najam Sethi stating that the management has solid proof against them.
“We took a pledge at the wonderful opening ceremony [on Thursday]. We also stood up for the national anthem. And the very next day this happened. This is horrendous, extremely painful,” Ramiz told Mumbai Mirror from Dubai. “We did not want it. Pakistan has gone through hell because of such situations. One more [scandal] to deal with I guess. No lessons were learned from the [Mohammad] Amir saga.”
The 54-year-old reiterated the claim he earlier made when Amir was included in the national team that players who put the country’s name in disrepute should never be allowed to come back.
“I wanted to make them [Amir and co] examples and not bring them back into the system,” he said. “It is a straight-forward call for me but I was not in charge of the decision. I just gave my opinion. Now it has come back to bite us, unfortunately.”
Ramiz said regardless of how talented a player may be, he shouldn’t be considered indispensable after such a heinous act.
“There is no way such individuals should be allowed back into the game,” said Ramiz. “The game of cricket has to move on and we can always have someone to replace him. No one is indispensable. We got it absolutely wrong.”
The brand ambassador for PSL also suggested following Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) and England’s county cricket’s examples which are ‘more or less free of corruption’.
“This is not a Pakistan-centric issue. We have to join forces to end this menace. We can create an awareness movement and a healthy environment. Maybe we need to study the BBL and even English Country cricket which are more or less corruption free. Asia is pretty affected by this menace,” said Ramiz.
Meanwhile, Ramiz also denied claims that the PSL as a product will face a setback due to the ongoing scandal.
“I don’t think it is a setback,” he said. “We have got England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan here. We have got Brendon McCullum. The talent pool is very good. There is a lot of interest in the PSL. Now the final will be in Lahore; every foreign player is ready to cooperate to make it happen. The integrity of the PSL was at stake and the PCB took a prompt decision, which is right and transparent. They have learned their lessons from past and know the value of a quick decision.”
Ramiz said there were lessons to be learned for the players and the PSL management from the ongoing case.
“While effort is being made to ensure such things don’t happen [again], it is impossible to completely root out corruption. All you can do is give them a healthy environment and explain [to the players] the pros and cons of this kind of activity. Hopefully, this will be a lesson for other guys. Hopefully, we will also learn as an organisation and as a PSL product.”
On the question of whether Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt should be allowed to return to the national team, a move endorsed by many former cricketers, Ramiz said: “Of course not.”