Pakistan cricket moves forward from corruption … yet Butt and Kaneria remain stuck in past
10:39 GMT, 26 June 2012
Someone needs to tell Salman Butt and Danish Kaneria to get with the times.
Their protestations of innocence last week might have received official backing while the buffoonish Ijaz Butt was still in charge of the Pakistan Cricket Board. But the mood has changed – at least in the boardroom, if not yet on the streets. And, for that, the international game can be thankful.
Last week Butt was deported to Pakistan after serving seven months of his two-and-a-half-year sentence for his part in the Lord's no-ball scam of 2010. He immediately insisted that 'nothing ever practically happened in a match that was linked to any offer', and apologised only for 'failure to report' his suspicions about what was going on.
This, remember, is the man who was found guilty in court of 'conspiracy to cheat' (a unanimous decision by a jury at Southwark Crown Court) and of 'conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments' (a 10-2 majority verdict).
Mobbed: Butt was afforded a hero's welcome on retuning to Pakistan from a British jail
More from Lawrence Booth…
The Top Spin: Maynard's shocking death is a sudden and painful descent into the world of reality
Top Spin: There's still plenty to take from Edgbaston despite the rain
Top Spin: If Pietersen can afford to retire, we know where we stand
Top Spin: Forget 'competing', it's time West Indies had a touch of class…
The Top Spin: England must reacquaint themselves with what they do best at Trent Bridge
The Top Spin: Late bloomer Anderson is England's man for all seasons
The Top Spin: Come in No 6! Five pressing questions for England to answer this summer
The Top Spin: Forget the rain… the lack of Gayle-force Windies dampens series
VIEW FULL ARCHIVE
Kaneria, meanwhile, reckoned the life ban imposed upon him by the ECB for his grooming of Mervyn Westfield was 'unfair'. He explained: 'They don't have any proof against me. I don't know why they are saying this.'
Perhaps Kaneria didn't read the verdict of the ECB's Cricket Discipline Commission Panel, which concluded that he had 'shown no remorse' and was 'a grave danger to the game'. It added: 'We consider that in many respects the evidence of Danish Kaneria simply does not stand up to scrutiny and is plainly lies.'
Perhaps he did read it. And perhaps he was simply bearing in mind the words of the excellent Pakistani cricket journalist Osman Samiuddin in last year's Wisden: 'In Pakistan, never underestimate the power of denial and the vividness of delusion which stems from it.'
Butt and Kaneria can both play to the crowds if it makes them feel better. Yet Butt now has a criminal record and cannot set foot in the UK for the next decade, while the PCB have pledged to apply the ECB's ban on Kaneria to their own jurisdiction, give or take the outcome of his inevitable appeal.
This is progress – and it has taken a while to get there. Two years ago, the former chairman of the PCB Ijaz Butt decided he didn't like the vitriol aimed at his team in the wake of the Lord's Test and accused England of throwing the one-day international at The Oval. He later apologised. (Hey, mistakes happen.)
And yet Ijaz Butt's tactics were merely part of a proud tradition in which wrongdoing was swept under the carpet through a combination of arrogance, expediency and societal pressure.
Quite how different cricket's
landscape would look now had Justice Qayyum not – by his own admission –
grown starstruck while passing judgment on the likes of Wasim Akram
('not above board'), Waqar Younis (fined 1,200), Inzamam-ul-Haq (ditto)
and Mushtaq Ahmed ('sufficient grounds to cast doubt'), is a matter of
What is clear, though, is that all
four men went on to assume important roles, either as a player, a coach –
with the ECB, in the case of Mushtaq – or a commentator.
Not guilty: Butt has denied being involved in any wrong-doing arising from the infamous no-balls at Lord's
Last week, General Tauqir Zia – PCB chairman at the time of Qayyum – told PakPassion.net that he had considered ridding the side of these cricketers.
The General explained: 'I went to the President of Pakistan to say, “Look, I do not know much about Pakistan cricket because I've just worked there for three or four months. If you ask me, I'd like to get rid of all these characters.”
'The practical man that he was, he asked: “Do you have the back-up squad” At that time, I didn't have a back-up squad so most of them were called straight back. But since there was also only suspicion on some of those players, they were not proven.'
The Top Spin on Twitter
For more cricketing musings, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin
Emboldened by Qayyum's vacillations, then manhandled into line by a hopelessly politicised PCB, Zia thereby confirmed to future generations of Pakistani cricketers that a slapped wrist and an averted glance would be the worst they might expect. The culture was one in which decay was not so much managed as implicitly encouraged.
Was it any surprise that both Butt and Mohammad Asif felt confident of acquittal until the final moments of their trial at Southwark Crown Court last year Or that Butt continues to behave like a man wronged Or that Kaneria pleads a heady mix of ignorance and innocence
They may still be assured of the
support of nationalists and conspiracy theorists, but at least it seems
they will no longer indulged by the PCB. So, amid all the weasel words
of the last week, let's cheer for new PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf.
'Pakistan cricket has suffered enough
and we don't want to take any further chances,' he said. 'We have a
strict zero tolerance against the corrupt element.'
We will have to take him at his word.
Disgraced: Kaneria has been banned from cricket for life by the ECB
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS
He bowls to the right: Johnson has played down the impact of Barmy Army songs
He bowls to the left…
There was a bizarre moment at Grace Road on Thursday, when Mitchell Johnson was briefly heckled by a small group of supporters as he ran in to bowl during Australia's one-day tour opener against Leicestershire.
For if there is a ground in England where the Barmy Army's favourite scapegoat might have expected a bit of peace and quiet, Grace Road was surely it. (You're a Northamptonshire follower, aren’t you – Ed.)
But it seems Johnson has been turning the taunts to his advantage. 'Out on the field it's quite strange because some of their songs are really catchy and you almost get involved in it,' he told the July edition of The Cricketer.
'You can find yourself almost whistling their songs. While you can get a bit sick of it, they must feel threatened as they do it to put players off.' Nice try, Mitch. Nice try.
Nothing if not consistent
As sure as night follows day, the
BCCI have responded to the latest attempt by the ICC's Chief Executives'
Committee to make the DRS mandatory in international cricket with a big
The timing of the BCCI's declaration
of non-intent is hardly propitious: the Galle Test that finished
yesterday – and did not use the DRS for financial reasons – was marred
by a string of howlers of the kind that ought to have no place in the
Throw in the recent independent
findings, which – admittedly, from a small sample – confirmed the
accuracy of the ball-tracking technology in use during last year's South
Africa-Australia series, and you wonder just how much longer the BCCI
will be able to resist.
With the 2015 World Cup due to
include the DRS, you might think they'll need to practise using the
system sooner rather than later.
Right to ban Misbah
Dav Whatmore thinks it isn't right that Misbah-ul-Haq should have been banned from the Galle Test because of an over-rate misdemeanour. This is no great surprise: Whatmore is Pakistan’s coach, and Misbah their captain.
And yet financial penalties have had little or no effect on the constant short-changing of the public by players who can’t be bothered to give them their money's worth. It’s hard to think of any measure designed to focus a captain’s mind than the thought that he might miss the next game.
Pedestrian: Misbah has paid the price for Pakistan's slow over rate
A very modern kind of perspective
If we're honest, does anything really put things into perspective Apparently, the tragic death of Tom Maynard was going to do precisely that. But three or four days was all it took before everyone began wringing their hands over Andrew Flintoff's weird broadside at Mike Atherton.
Which just went to show that tragedy may indeed give rise to perspective – but only until a triviality arrives to blur the focus.