Pakistani Cricket – Defined yet Defamed
By Mavra Tahir
Pakistan is counted amongst those countries where people are known to dearly love the game of cricket. In recent years, it can be said that the love for cricket has effectively surpassed the love for our national game hockey. Thereby, it is a common sight to see most of the public glued to their television sets (and rosaries) whenever the men in green step down on the pitch.
The game of cricket is divided into three genres: One Day International, Twenty-Twenty and Test Match. The rules of the game are the same in all three formats: hit out, or get out!
One Day International (or ODI), is a match played at the rate of fifty overs per innings. Most ODIs take place during the course of day and night. Introduced in the 1970s, ODI cricket has become one of the most popular formats of the game, besides T20. Each team has to play fifty overs with the bat and ball, in turns respectively. To those ardent fans who particularly adore the quick scoring of boundaries, ODI cricket is nothing short of a treat to watch.
T20 is the shortest version of the game, which is based on twenty over innings for each team, to be played with bat and ball. Nowadays, it is the most exciting format for spectators, one that can be easily fit into schedules, given the fact that most T20 matches last for a mere 3 hours. In this regard, T20 has even outdone ODI which was once thought to be the shortest format.
Test cricket is considered the longest format of the game. It consists of a total of 5 days, being played till the day lasts over the same pitch. Test cricket is the true test of the players, as it requires both the batsman and bowler to be extremely patient and keep their cool by not making hasty decisions.
Done with the brief introduction of the three formats of the game, let’s move to the topic of Pakistani Cricket – which is truly an enigma in it’s own right. Characterised by sharp peaks and downturns, Pakistani cricket is now in a turmoil these days.
Three cricketers, who were once Pakistan’s heroes namely, Salman Butt, Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Amir, are now serving their jail time in London. Once accused of match fixing and spot fixing scandal, the trio was found guilty and liable both by the ICC tribunal as well as the Crown court for fixing in test matches held in Lords, London along with their agent Mazhar Majeed.
Salman Butt, who succeeded as captain after Shahid Afridi’s untimely retirement, has now been sentenced to jail for 2 and a half years. Butt was an opening batsman of Pakistan, playing alongside Muhammad Hafeez. Butt had been accused of being involved in the match and spot fixing scandal, more accurately performing the role of a ring-leader in all fixing activities.
Muhammad Asif has been sentenced for similar offences, albeit for 1 year only. Asif was Pakistan’s fast bowler who had a good impact among the cricket fans, performing the role of a premium pace bowler alongside Umar Gul. Though it can be said that Asif has always remained under the spotlight of media; his drug-abuse scandals, detention at the UAE and involvement with actress Veena Malik all serve as examples illustrating the previously made point.
Muhammad Amir, the youngest bowler, has sentenced to jail and rehabilitation in London for 6 months due to his young age and inexperience. He too has been accused spot-fixing as the other two. All these cricketers have been heavily fined, especially Salman Butt; there is no doubt in my mind that once he returns back, he will have to start his career again from scratch.
Bookies, like Mazhar Majeed, have done nothing except for giving Pakistan a bad name, all over the world. We should just think of cricket as a game and nothing else. Even politics have been involved in cricket Pakistan, destroying the good image of the game and nation overseas.
I don’t blame any of the players, neither am I taking anyone’s side. They did not do any of this stuff on their own, they have been bribed by the higher ups, and anyone can fall in the hands of such of people. After all, who doesn’t love money?
I think that if regular steps are taken to eradicate these evil match fixers, then the game can be restored back to its original glory. Cricket should be as it comes, with its own natural flow, and should not be “scripted” in any manner – we already have soap operas to fulfill that requirement. Cricket, as I gather, is a game of patience, brainwork, power and most important of all, good understanding and teamwork. Efforts should be undertaken at all levels to insure that it returns to being a natural team game again.