I am already tired of reading of corrupt Pakistani cricketers. I am tired because I do not like seeing my second favourite XI impugned; I despair at wonderfully promising and entertaining sportsmen tarnished; and I hate seeing a game I love tainted by disrepute.
I am tired and I don't want to know. And so it would be so easy just to close my eyes and ears and mind and just say say yes, just ban all those dastardly Pakistanis and make it all go away, go away, go away ...
That is no way to live, is it?! That is simply not cricket. And it is not helping cricket either.
Before making my mind up, should I not at least ask why those implicated in this sorry saga did what they allegedly did? Was it merely greed?
And this is where an article by Geoff Lawson, former Australian cricketer and former Pakistani coach, comes in with a chilling tale of not so much corruption as extortion and concerns rarely faced by a Westerner. He writes:
In my time as Pakistan coach, I gained some incredible insights into the workings of the country and the team, and I'll never forget the time the team captain called me up to his room on the eve of a match.Earlier that day, a player who we had not selected for the game approached me, saying: ''I was told I would be playing tomorrow.'' My response was, ''Well no, you're not, you've obviously been given the wrong information.''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.
Lawson also recounts of the ordeals the 16-year-old Amir would sometimes have to endure just to make it to practice sessions, as well as the financial and psychological family pressures Asif would face.
None of these things excuse cheating and corruption, of course. I would say, however, that it is the task and responsibility of the Pakistan Cricket Board to protect its players from at least extortion and other forms of blatant threats to the players themselves and their families. And if it is not, it should be. I would like to know: have the PCB had reason to; and if yes: have they?