World cricket needs the Shahids and Shoaibs
So, we have a Pak whistle blower, finally.
Zulqarnain Haider, of 24 years, one test and four ODIs vintage, has also, as it were, blown the whistle on his international career.
Or is it? By the looks of it, Pak Cricket, attempting to gain respectability at any cost has only managed to plunge deeper into a crisis courtesy this Fly, Bhai, Dubai episode.
As far as match fixing and its latest innovation spot fixing go, Pakistan cricket has had everything: whispers, accusations, suspicions, suspensions, bans, scapegoats, retirements, etc. What they haven't had, truly speaking, is a remedy for this malaise which threatens to deprive world cricket of highly talented cricketers, their mercurial temperament notwithstanding.
If the needle of suspicion was pointed, for the first time, at Asif Iqbal in the 80s, it seems to be finally coming to rest at Butt & Butt & Associates, with London Police keen to press charges against the three accused of spot fixing during a test match against England.
If the charges are proved, it will indeed be a sad day for cricket. And that's the reason why I believe that the entire match fixing scandal isn't just Pakistan's problem. Just like the terrorism that grows out of its towns and cities isn't a Pak crisis alone.
As it is, cricket is played by a handful of countries. Of the current crop, Zimbabwe, Bangla Desh and the ever-declining West Indies do not often offer enough opposition to top teams.
New Zealand, as they have always been, are often good only till the middle of third day, or, sometimes, the fourth morning. That leaves you with India, Australia, South Africa, England and Sri Lanka. Hardly a bunch that can claim to be playing a global sport. Even if you add Pakistan to the list, well, that's just half a dozen, and that can hardly be called the United Nations.
Cricket needs Pakistan.
The skills and talents of its young men are indeed a great advertisement for the sport, as long as there are are no fixers around. And Pakistan cricket needs to have an Imran Khan or a someone like him at the helm. It needs a man who can face facts, accept faults, and set about a cleansing drive that's as much about world cricket as it will be about Pakistan cricket.
I am sure ICC and the other cricketing nations would wish the same, and will be more than willing to chip in. But for that to happen, PCB needs to come clean and attempt to stand up tall even as it seems to be missing the spine for some time.
Otherwise, the 2011 World Cup will be played under a cloud of suspicion and much more.