Test cricket is captivating because of the various subplots. If there is a sense one of the participants is conspiring to undermine the duel, the game does not work.
Integrity of every cricket ball is now in the spot
When Tharanga Paranavitana was dropped off Umar Gul's bowling in yesterday's Test in Sharjah, does it make you a cynic to question whether the mistake was genuine? Or a realist?
Perhaps, somewhere, a bracket was open and a wicket at that time would have cost lots of money.
What about when a bowlers oversteps and concedes a run for a no ball? It has been drab cricket any way. Interspersed among the dot balls, who would have noticed, much less cared? So why not send one down to top up the income?
We used to watch Test matches thinking: are these players good enough to beat the other set? Now it is more a case of: are they honest enough?
Are these players just very convincing actors, like wrestlers? Perhaps next week they should liven up the one-day games by playing each other in a cage.
The players should be given foldable metals chairs to hit each other with. And the good guys will presumably be robbed of victory at the last by some injustice.
As Salman Butt would have it, sport can survive if it is fake. Wrestling can, cricket certainly cannot.
Test cricket is captivating because of the mini-battles which make up the whole. If there is the sense one of the participants is conspiring to undermine the duel, the game does not work.
Yes, players would be mad to risk it, because of the precedent set by three players being jailed for conspiracy to cheat last week.
Now international cricketers will not only have their talent questioned when they fail, but their integrity.