Articles of the year 2010

Fish in a Barrel
Published on September 06th, 2010

Having arrived just after the Cricket bombshell exploded over the Pakistani community in England it was sad to see the dejection on the faces of all Pakistanis here cricket lovers or not. The newspapers were having a field day at our expense, and the Embassy staff just were not able to cope. The High Commissioner it seems has almost always been given the job to cleanup the messes of others. Be it the collection of documents of the Swiss cases, or collecting Ghandara antiquities for the Surrey Mansion he has been the point man for the Bhuttos, and now had to face sharp questioning on the cricket scandal. Unfortunately our High Commission made up for their lack of legal expertise by an overaggressive stance in the interviews. Almost hysterical at times it was certainly not as smooth nor as diplomatic one would have wished.

Worse still the Embassy was obviously not properly briefed on the key Pakistani position which should have been the lack of security supervision of the players and protection from the bookies who are the main corrupters of the players. The ICC ,that is the main enforcer of the cricketing rules, rules that were drafted by the same body, and are fiercely enforced by them, have overlooked their own major clause. The host country is responsible for security --- not just of the players, but also the people who visit the players. These visitors are carefully scrutinized to screen out bookies pimps and other unsavoury characters. The England players are given regular updates on whom to avoid, and are warned to immediately report any untoward approaches from any of the above. The hotels where the teams are billeted are very carefully watched and any suspicious moves / characters are reported to the authorities—action is fairly rapid and stern. The lapse of security in the Lahore game against Sri Lanka is a prime example. When the Chairman of the PCB had promised Presidential level security for the visiting team, but was non-existent in reality, allowing the ensuing massacre. The Chairman Ijaz Butt had not bothered to have a look at the route, or he would have noticed the complete absence of any policemen on the rooftops, or on the roads. His tirade against the match referee on this issue, calling him a liar, was subsequently enough for Pakistan being declared out of bounds for any International Matches, thereby causing colossal damage to a cricket mad people. This Chairman has done more damage to Cricket in Pakistan than any before him, and the damage may be difficult for anyone to match subsequently. But because he is a relative of a crony of the President thus he is irremovable, and will indubitably cost the Public much more grief before we see the last of him. This nonsensical support for Ijaz Butt has not only cost Pakistan the ability to host Cricket tours, but his continued gaffes have prevented any rapprochement between the International Cricket bodies and Pakistan. He is also responsible for Hassan's tirade at the British press which as any halfwit knows will surely antagonize a powerful media whose support is desperately needed by the flood affectees of Pakistan, which support may be with held.

The ICC must be questioned on their lack of security at the venues and of the warnings to the Pakistan management regarding the friendships with unsavory characters. The ICC has as much a responsibility to the monitoring of both teams, and the intelligence of Scotland yard and of the Serious Fraud office should have been called in alerting the Pakistan team manager, before the alleged offence was committed. For the bookies to have targeted 18 year old Amir –read 12 year old in IQ years in any other country, was akin to shooting fish in a barrel. The sportsmen of the world are chosen for their ability to bowl fast with guile or to hit the ball hard, and not for high IQs. That is why sportsman need minders, and managers. People like Mike Tyson were the animals where brutality is required, and even he overdid it. But then the News of the world is well known for its lack of moral niceties. To them the story matters, but the sting loses its luster when the fish in the barrel analogy is drawn.

The ICC has this greater responsibility to the game and to the players. It will be a pity if a genius is nipped in the bud before his talent can be properly employed. The ICC should nurture such talent, and if need be, given the protection of an English County Club where he will be watched over, and given the guidance and discipline necessary.