Let us look, for a moment, beyond the obvious. Let us ignore, for the time being, the obvious – and damning – video evidence provided by a newspaper that revels in reporting the dubious. Let us also overlook, although it is admittedly impossible to, the ramifications of this latest scandal to hit Pakistan cricket, which will rumble on in the cricketing world, long after this Lords Test is over.
Let us focus, instead, on what might have been. Let us question the poor judgement of the Pakistani team’s tour management in allowing their players to be linked to the alleged middleman. Let us attempt to understand why the ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) was not informed about the alleged nexus being formed between several players and the man arrested for “attempting to defraud bookmakers” after a “sting operation” conducted by the News of the World.
Let us explore the motives that, as reported, could have led to several Pakistani players – the captain, Salman Butt, and wicket-keeper, Kamran Akmal, reportedly among them – be willing to collude with bookmakers in the first place. Let us try to imagine why two of the most naturally gifted cricketers in the world, in the personas of Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, would reportedly be willing to risk their careers by accepting money to deliberately under-perform on demand.
Let us deliberate on the fallout of this scandal, for it can be termed as nothing else, and how it will impact on the future of Pakistan cricket. Let us skip forward a couple of weeks, for the moment, and speculate on how many more shocking revelations will follow. Let us brace ourselves for the endless innuendo that will ensue and the poker-faced denials that will become the order of the day.
Let us wonder, therefore, how events have come to such a pass. Let us question, once again and with more vehemence, the lax administrative skills of the Pakistani tour management that allowed this to happen. Let us berate the ACSU for not, as its mandate requires, being more vigilant.
Let us, also, prepare ourselves for the cacophony that will now begin: the threnody of voices calling for heads to roll. Let us be ready to see whole-scale changes in team personnel; the old ones being dispensed with summarily, the new ones being brought in, ostensibly, to usher in a “new era”.
Let us remember, though, that we’ve been here before. Let us reconsider the facts, therefore. Let us remember that a criminal investigation is now ongoing. Let us worry about the fate of those implicated: those who matter, those whose careers were beginning to blossom, those whose stars were on the rise. Let us ponder over the disservice done to the game, if these allegations are true; and what will happen to the cricketers whose careers will forever be blighted, even if these allegations remain unproved.
Let us reflect, now, on how a poorly handled similar crisis from over a decade ago has come to haunt Pakistan cricket again. Let us rue the incompetence that allowed successive Pakistan Cricket Board administrations to overlook an infection that has gnawed away at the very basis of the country’s cricketing core. Let us castigate their indifference, their apathy – and let us exhort those who can to clamp down now so that we can be spared this embarrassment again.