x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Cheating is just not cricket

Rahim Khan, a Mumbai businessman, used to wager up to Rs8m a day on cricket matches. Now he says he no longer does, thanks to spot-fixing allegations.

Rahim Khan, a Mumbai businessman, used to wager up to Rs8m in a single day on cricket matches. Now, he says, he no longer does thanks to the spot-fixing allegations.

"Virtually every game is fixed in some way," he says. "And it is not just one team, Pakistan. Every team is involved, but unlike Pakistan, they may do one game in five or six. If you know the right people, you can make a killing on every session."

Cheating. It's just not cricket. Except, sadly, that is all cricket seems to be about these days. Historically, few team sports have been associated with fair play more than cricket. Maybe baseball or golf come close but certainly not football, and not rugby.

But the days when cricket used to stand for something honourable are long gone now. The recent match-fixing allegations against three Pakistani players has opened a can of worms with regard to corruption in the modern game. The depths to which the gambling industry in Pakistan and India has infiltrated the game, as reported by The National in the last few days, would not have come as a major surprise to anyone with more than a passing interest in the sport .

Sports fans, like Rahim, invariably react with indignation about match fixing, oblivious to the irony that they themselves contribute to the rampant corruption by indulging in the illegal betting industry.

Many fans, players and officials remain in denial about corruption, blaming the press or rivals for the allegations. Sometimes, however, the most obvious scenario, no matter how painful to acknowledge, is the right one.

It is time for cricket lovers in Pakistan, and everywhere else, to accept the uncomfortable truth about their tarnished sport.