Spot-fixing gets you sent to jail. That much has been established. The world of cricket has now paid witness to a historic trial, which has resulted in three Pakistani cricketers, Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer being sentenced for their roles in last year's no-ball scandal. This has, besides the usual grim humor, sparked some plaintive complaints who suggest the sentences were a) too harsh "jail time for no-balls?" or b) too unforgiving "Pakistani cricketers live such unimaginably hard lives, they practically had to fix a match or two in order to make it to the next day". Another theme is that this scandal shows cricket administration in a poor light (its hard to know whether to describe this as a theme or as the latest emanation from the We Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel Brigade). Lastly, there are some confused mutterings about cricket being hypocritical: we send fixers to jail but we don't crack down on all these other bad things: sledging or not walking, for instance.
Right. It might be useful to keep things straight. Fixing has long been a scandal in the game, and its continued presence has always threatened to render the game a joke. That this sorry mess went to trial was a relief; it afforded a break from the usual sequence of matchfixing scandal followed by board cover-up (usually carried out by the PCB). The accused had legal representation (some of it expensive and of high-quality); the trial was fair; the legal procedures for due process were followed and sentences have been announced. The three cricketers broke the law of the land (where the games were being staged) and have been punished by the law. There has been no suggestion of railroading, of a kangaroo court, or of any sort of legal impropriety.
So, I'd like to get clear on something: Where is the injustice? Are the laws unfair? Should Great Britain not have certain laws on its books? Should charges not have been filed? Or does the injustice lie in something rather more cosmic: Economic inequality in the world of cricket, which makes Pakistani cricketers do bad things? The unfairness of an incompetently run cricket world bearing witness to an efficient dispensation?
Labels: matchfixing, Pakistan