Cricket has been rocked this week by News of the World allegations of matchfixing within the Pakistan cricket team. The Cricket Web team got together and shared their thoughts on this disastrous scandal.
"The entire cricket world, Pakistan included, appears to have made up its mind about the sordid revelations that the News of the World printed on Sunday. Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif have, by many, already been tried and convicted. The rest of the Pakistan team and management, and for some the entire nation, are guilty by association.
We would do well to remember that all is not always as it seems, and that those allegedly involved are innocent until proven guilty. It doesn't look good for those in the frame, and if guilty they deserve all the condemnation that will come their way. Before that however they are entitled to a fair trial and, if they are convicted, to be punished in a manner that is appropriate to their individual involvement.
The issues raised here are a classic illustration of why English law requires investigations to be carried out with painstaking thoroughness and without the press interfering. Our legal system, if not public opinion, has not forgotten the lessons that the deaths of the likes of Timothy Evans, Derek Bentley and Stefan Kiszco taught it. Neither will those charged with carrying out the enquiry lose sight of the fact that the experiences of a number of Irish people in the 1970's vividly demonstrate that nationalistic fervour has no place in our justice system."
"The entire scandal has put me in such a horribly foul mood with cricket that I lack the desire to write anything about it."
"After David Constant, Gatting/Rana, the Lamb/Imran court case, Ian Botham's mother-in-law, and most of all Darrellgate, it had appeared with just a day of the series to go that we would, for once, be spared a major controversy this time. It seems it was just too good to be true. We'd had the unedifying sight of Broad's ill-tempered throw that put Zulqarnain Haider out of the series, but that paled very quickly into insignificance wiith the News of the World's revelations of Saturday night. It's been a long time since a cricket story was the lead on news channels for several days running. Unfortunately, and inevitably, it was for the wrong reasons. Now we have not only the knowledge that match-fixing has not gone away in the last decade, but perhaps, the suspicion that it's been among us the whole time."
"When the news breaks that cricket is hitting the front pages of national papers, it generally provokes a feeling of trepidation, what is the scandal breaking that is to show this wonderful sport in a negative light?
It may be harsh to suggest that when this news did break, it was less of a surprise to know that Pakistan may be involved, such is the fragile and self-destructive nature that constantly surrounds the cricket team, but of course as we are continuously being reminded, they are at this stage only allegations.
Of course every cricket lovers heart sank when the young wonderkid Mohammad Amir's name was mentioned as being involved in the alleged match-fixing. You cannot help but cringe when you see the exagerrated no-ball's he delivers. Surely this most promising bowler has not tossed away such an exciting career for the lure of the dollar.
I am sure over the coming weeks there will be tales heard of mitigating circumstances, threats made to family members cannot be ruled out, should that be the case surely this incident then takes on a different light. The investigators need to ensure that the true and real facts are ascertained and the depth of this virus in the sport is extinguished as best as they can.
Anger is the first emotion I felt, how could they cheat the watching public, their team-mates and the opposition, who train and work so hard only to have the memories of some exhilirating performances tainted.
What other aspects of recent Test matches have been arranged beforehand to line the pockets of those involved? Australia's comeback win at Sydney against Pakistan in January of this year is another game that now has a rather ugly dark cloud hovering above.
Yet it is important, should they be found guilty, that the punishment handed out is fair and proper. It may take some time to get to the bottom of these events, and even longer to set in place a system that eradicates the possibilities of this happening again and also to remove the temptation that faces all international cricketers."
"It's never been easy being a Pakistani fan. As far back as I can remember, there has been one difficult moment after another. Some dark moments we had no control over. Others, and lately more often than not, were of our making. With each passing scandal, you think we can't sink any lower. You hope we won't be embarrassed any further. And then the next scandal hits.
There is nothing I can write that can properly convey the mix of rage, sadness, and embarrassment that I feel. Oh I want to believe that this is not what it seems. That when all the details/truth come out, my team's innocence will be upheld. Yet I know that's not what will happen. I know deep down inside that the worse will be confirmed. Yet another black mark. Yet another blow to the soul of the Pakistani cricket fan. I feel numb and emotionally exhausted.
It may sound extremely cheesy, but whenever I feel a bit down, one of the things that always picks me up is watching my old VHS tape of the '92 WC Final. My three favorite players of all-time (Imran, Javed, Wasim) on top of the world. Pakistan on top of the world. Imran bowls that final ball, Rameez takes the catch and raises his hands. One by one, the Pakistani players fall to the ground for Sajda's. The final celebrations always bring a smile to my face, no matter how hard a day I just had. That's the effect cricket has always had on me. Today, I just don't have the desire to play that tape. I don't feel I'm in the right state of mind to talk about what should happen to the guilty players, or Pakistan cricket as a whole. I don't think I care anymore to be honest."
"I visited Leeds on the same day that the News of the World was unleashed upon the world with cricket's latest scandal. In the evening, I was in a taxi with a couple of friends and two of us sat in the back discussing the matchfixing scandal and some comments Shahid Afridi had supposedly made which I read on my phone.
The taxi driver interjected into our conversation, telling us he was Pakistani and a passionate supporter of the team. He had spent a fair bit of money watching the test against Australia in the year, not just on tickets (of which he had bought three days' worth) or all the other costs that anyone has ever been the cricket will know all about, but also the days work lost. He similarly had tickets for the forthcoming one-day international against England at Headingley. He told of his absolute devastation at these players letting him down, how he was furious to have spent all that money on players who were not actually trying, and clearly felt a deep shame about what these men had done to his country's image, which was already tarnished to many.
Let's not forget that the match the aforementioned taxi driver watched against Australia earlier in the year ended in Pakistan victory (it was the Headingley test) - for me, that sums up best what this scandal has done to the fans. It has rendered results meaningless. The victory that Pakistani fans rejoiced over earlier in the summer now seems so worthless amidst all of the wondering. There can't be a cricket fan around the world now not questioning any recent victories their team enjoyed over Pakistan.
I listened to a song this morning that contained the lines, "Ask yourself, why I would choose, to prostitute myself, to live with fortune and shame?" As I listened, I couldn't help but think of the accused, and wonder why they couldn't have chosen to express such sentiments, when approached.
Cricket will fight back, it always does. But its image will be damaged for a long time."
"While laregly agreeing with Will's sentiments, I will briefly share the story of my Sunday morning.
I strolled up to my cricket club's clubhouse to volunteer my services to help clean out the changing rooms, ahead of the game on Monday, of all the mess that would've been left in there overnight by the football team who share our facilities.
I got there a few minutes early and the first person to turn up was my skipper, as he started to unluck all the changing room doors we struck up the conversation about the other overnight mess, the Pakistan cricket team, as a few more players turned up to help the discussion grew into a debate about whether or not life bans were deserved and what sort of actions the ICC should take.
It was then, at this moment, that our player of Pakistani descent arrived, nobody was quite sure how to react. In our own little bubble, as Englishmen looking and pointing the finger at another team, we had forgot those whom it matter most to.
Usually this guy is what you called call 'the team joker' the center of all the banter and as a Newcastle United FC and Pakistan fan, he was used to being on the receiving end of it as well. But his whole demeanour was different. When Pakistan were bowled out for 72 and later beaten by 9 wickets, he was quick to remind us the series wasn't over yet and his faith was repaid with a victory. When the going was rough he was strong enough to take it on the chin and keep believing in his side, when Pakistan did celebrate a victory in the 3rd Test he enjoyed it as much as any Pakistan fan but was humble enough to remember the lows.
As he walked towards the changing rooms there were a few uneasy glances at one another between those of us who had just been talking about the matter, we could tell it was not the time to make light of the situation but nobody was quite sure of how to deal with matter.
Thankfully it was taken out of our hands, but in the worst way possible.
'Lads, I don't want to talk about it, I don't think I care anymore.'
That was the worst thing to come out of the news for me; to see a man who was such a passionate fan, who stuck with his side through thick and thin, who deserved so much more, repaid in such a horrible manner. To just be drained of all emotion.
While all and sundry panic about the future of the game, its integrity, its tarnished appearance, spare a thought for the fans of Pakistan whose faith in their side has been wiped away."
"The integrity of one of sport's most gentlemanly games has been torn fatally apart during this last week amid match fixing allegations stamping a deathly mark on the legitimacy of Pakistan's tour of England this summer. Now, the Metropolitan Police and the various cricketing authorities are undertaking all the appropriate measures in the investigation concerning the three 'no balls' in last week's Lords Test by Pakistani bowling duo Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, in addition to the alleged involvement of Captain Salman Butt.
Taking a different route into this story, however and there is a disparity which looks to be a long-term parasite to Pakistani cricket. Remorseless or not, amid a consistently troublesome time in Pakistan with devastating floods, perennial security concerns, game changing corruption and rival country India enjoying the riches of the Indian Premier League (a tournament devoid of any Pakistani involvement) it is difficult not to feel sorry for suffering residents of the country whom with personal difficulties now see one of their passions in life flirting with the self-destruct button.
Whether or not, the investigation will come to fruition quickly is another matter, and even if it is in favour of the players involved in the alleged corruption a permanent scarring and shame has been bestowed over Pakistan. Ultimately, cricket in Pakistan is the brightest point in many people?s lives and the heroism normally shown towards the countries international starlets should rightfully be repelled in the form of a life ban from the sport if the people in question are found guilty. It is though, a great shame how disruption and controversy seems to follow hand in hand with Pakistani cricket throughout the decades as the nation risk losing their spot amongst the world?s cricketing elite.
Young prodigy and bowling sensation, 18 year old Mohammad Amir, himself caught up in the investigation has been one of the brightest sparks to have lit up Pakistan and the world game for a long time. And the way he bulldozed through England's off colour batting line-up on the second morning of the Fourth and final Test of the series laying claim to a remarkable wicket haul entrenching his name on The Home of Cricket's historic honours board causing stark comparison to his hero, and hero to many fast bowling legend Wasim Akram was a fantastic spectacle. This, now seems like a long gone distant memory, as a unique, fresh faced talent harnessing all the credentials of a world star could be in-line to have a career cut-short if proved guilty of his role in the match fixing scandal with the combination of short sighted views to earn quick finance and underworld betting criminals access to players being intolerably intrusive. If you asked many operating within the game; they would pray teenager Amir could be sparred premium punishment but with ICC anti-corruption boss Sir Ronnie Flanagan today stating players have been given training and advice of how to handle intruders into the sport, this tells the tale of the seriousosity and needs must to rid the game of such purgatory."
They are just the thoughts of a few and you will surely have your own. There is undoubtedly more to be revealed on this yet, and perhaps plenty that we will never know.
Look out for the next CW feature, from Swaranjeet Singh, which will provide his detailed insight and thoughts into these allegations.
Thanks for reading.