Posted by: nestaquin | August 31, 2010

Mr Headin Butt

Reports in this morning’s media are claiming that PCB chairman Ijaz Butt is adamant that the players implicated in the NOTW betting sting are innocent and he has challenged police to provide hard evidence before he will consider any censure of those involved.

Honestly, this statement is almost beyond belief! Surely, Mr Butt has seen the video and the infamous no-balls. Unless the NOTW have created a vast conspiracy that was aided by an impossible coincidence the players have been caught red-handed. No doubt about it. At the very least they should be stood down while investigations continue.

By digging in his heels Mr Butt is only making matters worse and drawing suspicion to himself and other Pakistani cricketers and administrators.

A common assumption throughout the Western democracies and India is that Pakistan is a place bursting with hypocrisy, artifice and corruption. These last few days their cricketing representatives, both on and off the field, have only reinforced this view.

The ramifications of this incident aren’t confined to the sporting arena either. This morning on ABC radio the head honcho at UNICEF was appealing to the Australian public to continue to provide charity to the Pakistan Flood Appeal as donations had fallen dramatically over the weekend.

He specifically noted that the murky events at Lord’s was a factor and pleaded with the public to not connect the two events. If callers during the interview were representative of the general consensus then I fear it may be too late.

Unfortunately, Mr Butt’s refusal to face reality has now put his hitherto gracious hosts, the English, in a most unpleasant situation. Until action is taken a dark cloud of suspicion now hangs forlorn over this English summer and perhaps, many more to follow.

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Responses

  1. Nesta, surely some fall in donations on the weekend was to be expected after a surge due to the ABC’s national push on Friday?

    • I’m sure there are other factors Jonathan but the lack of trust in the Pakistani authorities to distribute aid and the corruption at Lord’s and Sydney was mentioned. It’s a ersatz link at best but cricket is one of the few things that links both nations.

  2. I think Mr.Butt has no choice but to toe the line of ‘innocent till proven guilty’. Apparently, this whole issue is way beyond the ability of the PCB to handle, and I have been reading allegations from ‘official’ agents of some of the Pakistani players that even some of the PCB members are complicit in this racket.

    It doesn’t surprise most people in the Indian sub-continent though.It is an open secret that the global cricket betting syndicate is run from Karachi by Dawood Ibrahim, and the logistics are managed by his henchmen in Karachi, Mumbai and elsewhere.

    The Indian govt has been asking Pakistan to extradite Dawood to India in connection with the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai, and other crimes.And the Pakistani Govt has been claiming that Dawood doesn’t live in Pakistan !

    So, the cricketing bodies (the ICC, BCCI, PCB, ECB and others) are all powerless when ranged against a mafia empire that is protected by the Pakistani Govt, or at least by sections of its army and intelligence. The ‘war on terror’ by the US and allies should also have focused on Dawood’s connections with Al Qaeda and LeT, but for some reason, they have left the Don and his empire intact.

    The Indian Govt is unable to touch Dawood and Pakistan denies his existence.And lets face it, corruption in cricket is among the lesser crimes being committed by this mafiosi.

    Life time ban on the current players by the ICC will only serve the purpose of showing us all that strict action has been taken and we can all move on now that the mess is cleaned up. But the mess will never be cleaned up as long as Dawood & company operate freely from Pakistan.Is the future of cricket so valuable that the US will ask Pakistan to hand over Dawood- who is seen as a strategic asset by Pakistan? I doubt it.

    If the ECB, CAB and other western boards are really serious about ‘clean Cricket’, all cricketing ties with Pakistan must come to an end immediately, till we are all convinced that the Dawood mafia is no longer operational, at least in Cricket.

    As for India, I think the BCCI will be guided by the Govt and any decision taken will be based on geo-political diplomatic tactics than the ‘interest of Cricket’.Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will follow India’s example. BCCI can be influenced by the other boards by using the ‘future of IPL and Champions League’ cards.

    And what about the huge betting market in India for spot bets and match bets? It is best to legalize this betting, after putting appropriate controls in place.

    • All very interesting, Kumar, and an education for someone as naive, insulated and isolated as myself. If the criminal element cannot be reigned in then the only way forward is to make the punishment for players harsh and irreversible.

      With the BCCI holding most of the power in world cricket I’d expect them to show some leadership on this issue. Despite their differences I’m fairly confident that Cricket Australia would support them in whatever they deemed necessary to bring some integrity back to the sport.

  3. Kumar – Thank you for all that detail which squares with what I have heard from other friends about this Dawood person.

    Nesta – Mr Butt is in a very difficult position. I feel that he has to support his players until they are proved to be involved in fixing or confess (which would be much the best thing, but might lead to reprisals back home?) However, it should not be beyond the PCB to recognise that four players have been named and that they should be withdrawn from the touring party until the matter is resolved. That is surely in the players’ interests too.

    Ideally, the Tour would be abandoned, but I can’t see that with all the contracts in place and no proof to support rescinding them. I’m due to go the Lord’s and The Oval for the ODIs but I’ll feel ghoulish watching what I expect to be the demise of some great, but foolish, cricketers.

    • It will be interesting to see how Pakistan’s British based fans react to this dilemma. Their anger at present seems raw and unpredictable. Hopefully, many will be calmer by the time the weekend arrives.

      The ECB could always hastily arrange a series involving an Invitational XI from the overseas county players and others willing to participate with a portion of proceeds donated to the Pakistan Relief Fund in an effort to resurrect respect and fraternity for the game and its fans. I know it seems unlikely and far-fetched but it would be a lot more fun than watching a guilt ridden and disgraced Pakistani outfit going through the motions.

  4. While I agree with lifetime bans for those guilty of any tampering with the game, “a common assumption throughout the Western democracies” is the presumption of innocence, and trial by media (or blog) is no trial at all.

    • Very true Goldie but the evidence is compelling and there for all to see. After watching Pakistan play brilliant cricket in a non-televised practise match in Tasmania and then play bizarrely in every international thereafter last summer I presumed them innocent despite the rumour and speculation that surrounded the team.

      I understand that the NOTW is not everyone’s cup of tea but if it weren’t for their clandestine methods we’d all be none the wiser. I’d rather know than not know no matter how unpalatable the facts.

  5. […] is difficult, all the more unbearable when you hear how betting might affect innocent lives, as brought to my attention from nestaquin. People feel cheated, they feel like fools, they feel powerless, they feel the system has failed […]

  6. Nesta/Toots,

    Yes, the BCCI is powerful, but only among the cricket boards. Whatever steps they may advocate or support, it would not make a difference to the mafia.

    Only the Pakistan govt (with support from Indian and UK govts) can tackle this pest. And why would the Pakistani govt want to close a revenue stream of their strategic asset?

    They may want to do it if the alternative is to face Pakistan’s expulsion from international cricket. If the BCCI proposes such a move, it will be deemed as an anti-Pakistani stance by India.It will not be seen as an honest move to clean up cricket. Such a move from the ICC will also be seen as driven by Sharad Pawar who is a minister in Indian Govt. So, even the ICC’s decisions will not be taken at face value.

    The remaining options: a resolution proposed jointly by Cricket Australia and ECB, and endorsed by WI and SA boards. The BCCI and other Asian boards will be forced to take a stance, and they can then support the resolution moved by CA/ECB.

    I feel sorry for the cricketers, especially for Mohd Aamir and Salman Butt.At least, Hansie, Azhar and Saleem Malik got caught towards the end of their careers (Warne and Waugh were never punished but that is a different story, I guess).

    For large, poor families – the rise of one of the sons as an international cricketer – will mean a lift out of poverty straight into upper middle class. A family living in a 1 or 2 room tenement will suddenly have enough money to buy a decent house and a small car for the elderly to go around.And the ability to buy jewelry for the women at home. The young cricketer suddenly becomes a hero not just for the family, but for the entire village or small town. A steep fall from such will be very hard to stomach for the Aamirs and Akmals. The pity of it is that neither Aamir nor Akmal seem to have any idea of the ‘value’ of the pure cricketing talent they have been blessed with. When they get discovered by coaches, some one should have counseled them about the responsibility they need to show towards this God/Nature-given talent. It is not pragmatic to expect boards like the PCB or BCCI to institutionalize such counseling.

    I remember a story I read long back about Sunil Gavaskar.After his heady debut in 1971 against the West Indies, Gavaskar was the toast of the nation, and also of Bollywood. It started to become common to see Gavaskar attend social functions with a particular up and coming starlet.Apparently, some of the senior cricketers from Bombay took Gavaskar aside and counseled him against throwing it all away.”Get married to some one who is mature enough to appreciate your cricketing talent and the responsibility you have, and who will help you have a stable life at home,” was the advice. It is evident that Gavaskar took that advice. Two decades later, another set of senior Bombay cricketers (Gavaskar? Vengsarkar?) seem to have counseled a very young Sachin to get married to the right woman at the soonest, and stay away from any of the trappings of a celebrity cricketer. Sachin seems to have followed that advice.

    I am not saying that all cricketers should lead domesticised lives and not have fun. But when one is a teenager, and there is constant female adulation, and media attention, the lures of a broker who will arrange beautiful women for company plus pay you lots of cash for ‘just a little help’ is difficult to handle unless there is some one older and wiser to counsel you. For cricketers from the backwaters with no exposure to the hedonistic lifestyles of the rich, the sudden overload may become a tad too much. If the system is unable to find a mentor for them, they will find such mentors elsewhere.I strongly feel this is what must have happened to the likes of Aamir.

    Still, Aamir and the likes deserve a very stringent punishment. But what about the Board officials who were aware of all these things? Who is going to punish them? Who is going to ensure that the Majeeds of the world can not get access to the Aamirs and Akmals, except in a purely legal manner?

    As a spectator, I really do not want to concern my self with all these things. I want clean sporting action and I expect the governing bodies to ensure that. If they fail to do that, I will probably slowly stop watching cricket except for the marquee test series. The rest of the cricketing action will be treated like all the wrestling contests on TV that only adolescents seem to patronise. The game’s administrators should meet for an emergency session and ask themselves if they really want WWF and Cricket to be treated as the same.

    (Apologize for the long ramble)

    • No apologies necessary for so well written and balanced a post as yours Kumar.

      I see a shaft of light for Amir. If he was caught up in this when under 18 years of ages, where were his “in loco parentis” guardians? If it’s proved, Amir is culpable, but to punish him the most (his loss of earnings dwarfs what would be lost by Kamran Akmal) for actions taken when just a kid, is terribly unfair.

      • Amir won’t be fed to the wolves by the cricketing authorities, Toots. His Pakistan compatriots, both senior players and management, have failed in their duty to mentor him but I doubt the rest of the cricketing family will be so callous or irresponsible.

        If and when justice is served, perhaps, instead of complete exile a period of rehabilitation with a professional and ethical squad in say, I dunno, Tasmania, might teach the lad right from wrong. I’m sure his family could be repatriated and an education provided too. Sounds a far better option than being tried for treason in Islamabad and it would make my visits to Bellerive all the more enjoyable!

    • Kumar, your long ramble is most appreciated. I’ve already resigned myself to enjoying marquee series, Tasmania’s domestic season and my lad’s initial exploits with bat and ball.

      The rest I’ll largely ignore, however, I may be tempted to watch South Australia in the Champions League mainly to see how Callum Ferguson has recovered. He is a fine bat and would be Australia’s No.6 by now if not for his long rehabilitation to heal his injured knee. If his body stays true he is definite prospect to Captain the BaggyGreen when Pup Clarke is finished.

      While I’m pleased that Australia will be playing Tests in India next month I’m a tad confused about where this series sits in the burgeoning and exciting history of the Border Gavaskar Trophy. Is it up for grabs? Will Australia get two series at home? Is the contest now reduced to a measly two matches?

      Personally I’d like to see it given the same status as The Ashes. Five Tests home and away in a four year cycle. Is that asking for too much in this post T20 world?

    • These are good quality posts, Kumar.

      I have already felt a seismic shift mentally in my attitude towards international cricket in the last 3 days.

      My disappointment that Aamer is implicated at all knows no bounds. I’ve shocked myself with how depressing I found that. He’s so young and talented and if this stuff is true, the older players have helped him get involved, instead of giving him some guidance in the other direction.

      I might just follow the Western Australian Warriors from now on. They are rubbish, but I think their rubbishness is aboveboard.

      Though now I think of it, they do drop a lot of important catches. Ahhhhhhh!

      • Mitchell Marsh is worth putting up with the rest of the rubbish, Lou.

      • Agree with all the above posters – great ramble Kumar and a very sad state of affairs indeed. That will no doubt hasten the already clear drift of many ‘true believers’ from the game. How has it all come to pass….

        • l do really feel for young Amir and do indeed blame the senior players in the team if it is something they brought him into. etc etc l think all those points have been well made here and don;t need expanding. But as a small addition to these weighty matters here is an interesting link l was sent regarding another cricketer who l doubt makes anymore money than the Pakistani players. http://www.cricinfo.com/england-v-bangladesh-2010/content/story/460976.html?source=cmailer

  7. – Excerpt from Lawson’s (ex coach of Pak) article.

    “Then the skipper of the side called me late in the evening. I went to his room and he was standing there with a very sombre-looking selector.

    This selector said: ”We must pick [the player who had earlier approached me], I have been told that if he is not in the team tomorrow, my daughter will be kidnapped and I will not see her again.”

    At first we both laughed, but then we realised he was being serious. Our chairman then called the president, Pervez Musharraf, who in turn phoned the people behind the threats and said they had better reconsider or else. The next we heard the matter had been resolved.

    For full article – http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/easy-to-overstep-the-mark-when-players-families-lives-are-at-stake-20100830-147f7.html

    So the ex president of Pakistan called the people BEHIND the threat. This is disturbing on so many levels. 1) No one in Pak cricket is surprised by threats of kidnapping and worse. 2) The leader of the nation knows the people behind the threat 3) The powers then arm twist the people making threats BUT take no futher action!

    Why has the media not seized on this? If this is true, and Lawson has no reason to lie, the rot runs much deeper. “Politics and sport should be seperate” is a lie.

    • After reading this Dement, I think it’s safe to say that cricket is the least of Pakistan’s problems.

      I read the other day that the ICC is still to receive a report from the Pakistan authorities in regards to the attempted mass murder of the Sri Lankan squad. Were those guys ever apprehended? I’d like to see the media raise questions on that failed investigation also.

      Put into context, the recent events at Lord’s pale into insignificance in comparison to that dark day in Lahore just 18 months ago.

  8. I think we need to take a step back and let the authorities prove there was foul play. Recording a video is no big deal. NoTW could well have recorded this after the no balls were bowled – No one has established when it was recorded. Remember this could just be an exercise in boosting sales for NoTW.

    Sure if they prove Majeed paid these guys to bowl no balls then the ICC should mete out the appropriate punishments but until then it’s best to not vilify the players who have enough to worry about. Even if the charges don’t stick they’re tainted forever, with so many people openly asking for them to be banned even though nothing has been proven. NoTW isn’t concerned with sustaining cricket so even if the charges aren’t proven they’ll move on to their next sleazy operation. The cricketers, however, will always have their actions questioned because the media has been more than happy to milk this issue for its own gains.

  9. The cricketing authorities want this incident swept under the carpet. The sooner the better. After all, it’s in their interests to pretend that all is fine and dandy.

    NoTW’s motives are irrelevant and shooting the messenger just doesn’t cut it.

    No-balls were promised as proof that the agent could influence events. No-balls were delivered to order. There is no media conspiracy nor coincidence. Scotland Yard aren’t foolish enough to not check the veracity of the allegations and the timestamps on the video before pursuing their investigations in public.

    Personally, I think they’ll all get off on a semantic legal technicality and I’m unconcerned by that but please don’t make excuses for these fools. They knew what they doing and were caught red-handed.

    Who knows what other events during that match and many, many others were also contrived. As far as Pakistan is concerned every match they play from this point forward is clouded until their authorities convince the rest of the cricketing world otherwise.

    The onus should be squarely on Pakistan to clean up its act and regain respect because they have betrayed the trust, charity and generosity of too many for too long.

    • I find it difficult to disagree with any of this. I find it particularly odd that Haroon Lorgat has said that he hopes to have the investigation concluded by the time of the first T20.

      Surely speed should not be the issue here but thoroughness? Getting it done and dusted before the next international game seems to be more important that taking however long is necessary to establish the truth.

    • Timestamps can be fabricated, Nesta. They’re better off checking if the currency notes found on the Pakistani players match the ones NoTW gave to Majeed. They can check phone records, bank details, heck I don’t mind if they even use the polygraph. But until then, I think we should lay off the players.

      That Pakistan cricket should have cleaned up its act a long time ago is but obvious. Infact they should do so even if the players are found to be not guilty. However, it can also be done without pelting stones at donkeys or throwing eggs and tomatoes at the team bus.

      Lastly, the ICC has sat on its ass for a long time and we all know it. The ACSU is a joke and I’m glad the BCCI didn’t waste money on them for the IPL. Even if there is any matchfixing in that tournament it’s not like the ACSU has the ability to prevent it.

  10. Mahek – I understand that you wish to have matters proved before individuals, even a country, are traduced by everyone. But I have to tell you that the News of the World is part of the organisation that have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on cricket. The reporter (Mazer Mahmood) is the best at this kind of work and would not stake his reputation on a false prospectus.

    There are always technicalities and issues at the edges, but the heart of the matter is extremely likely to be true.

  11. Mahek, I think you are being naive about the likely spread of this conspiracy. The notes paid to the agent will have been laundered through his business operations, the players paid to secret off-shore accounts via (several) different off-shore accounts. Their phones will indicate they receive calls from their agent. Investigators of organised crime spend years trying (and often failing) to trace down financial irregularities and connections. The ACSU probably knows, or thinks they know what is happening, but that doesn’t give them the ability to stop it, or conduct trials. Hard evidence is not necessarily available, even if everyone knows what is happening. That’s why the ICC seemingly sits on its arse.

    As for Pakistan, if this incident was no more than a couple of morally bankrupt players contriving to shaft bookmakers we could merely suspend and ban them, then move on. It probably isn’t just that though. The inconsistent performances and wondrous ability to lose from any position, the factions that rip the team apart, the selectorial inconsistencies, the bizarre trials that followed the Australian tour, and the PCB’s noted inability to root out the problem… all point towards something wider and more systematic. In a corrupt system players are expendable and easily coerced, it will protect those whom it wants to keep and drive out those it doesn’t. It just isn’t feasible to expect Pakistan to clean up their act if large numbers of people in and around the game in that country are influenced by political/criminal elements in society at large.

    In any situation where corruption is endemic, it is often better not to punish the guilty, but to provide an open forum to confess sins, and air grievances and problems, then act on them. I’d much prefer to see any crooked team suspended for 1-2 years, and the players given an amnesty, than the players discarded, and the corruption remain intact.


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