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Gaurav Kalra
Monday , August 30, 2010 at 10 : 38

Pak match-fixing: devoured by deceit


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A blind man's love for a woman is a flight of imagination. The fullness of her lips, the glint of her eye, the contour of her breast are all flawless in his head. When sight is restored though, the horror is stark. Her face he discovers is covered in warts. Her hair chewed by lice. Her teeth gnashed by vermin. A return to blindness is no comfort because the myth is shattered and the ugliness of her being has permeated his mind. I suspect for us believers, that moment has arrived in Pakistan cricket. For long we admired its talent. We revered its skill. We celebrated its uniqueness. We even forgave its excesses. Alas, we were blind. Underneath a layer of lip-smacking chocolate lies a bitter and disgusting potion.

We must ask what prompts young men, barely out of their teens to cast aside all notions of integrity? What drives them fearlessly into the arms of shadowy operators? Why are they consumed by the lust for money? Is greed their only ambition? How has Pakistan's cricket team created a structure where a willing ally in deceit is an 'insider'. And the occasional dissenter is cast aside.

Perhaps Pakistan's new crickter feels the world 'undervalues' his talent. He looks enviously on as players with lesser skill enjoy the riches of the IPL while he is a pariah. He wonders why his Indian counterpart has a stream of doting sponsors at his doorstep while he endlessly waits for the phone to ring. Maybe as his shambolic country slips further into chaos, the pride to play for Pakistan is just a punch-line to be mouthed at an appropriate forum.

So does an Amir lie in bed and think, 'Damn that Pollard, not half the cricketer I am and yet he merrily munches on a million bucks every year. Might as well take the cash, its only for a little no ball after all' Does an Asif convince himself that if Praveen Kumar can have a garish gold chain dance around his neck despite not being a patch on him as a bowler, then the glib talk about pride can wait. Can I have the cash first?

This is a cricket team that has institutionalised corruption so it is why the game must be played. It is a team that convinces its newcomers of how their talent must extract a price. This is a bunch of men so devoted to the cause of acquiring wealth that there is no squeamishness about method. Defeat is for the fan to mope about, because within it lies the real victory; a fatter bank account. 'There you IPL buggers, look how I beat you', they seem to be saying; 'You get a million bucks to bowl four overs, I can do it with one no ball'.

For those of us pulverised by the videos, this day brings a lesson. Naivete must be forsaken and suspicion must become a guiding principle while watching this game now. No longer can we afford to merely applaud skill and admire talent. We must question each odd occurrence. We must raise the red flag after each collapse. We must murmur about a dropped catch. We must mistrust a missed stumping.

Urged on by shallow and insidious men, the game seems to have spawned a mindset of willingness to set the bar lower. Integrity is an over-rated theory, best for the pundits to pontificate about. Today it is the Pakistanis, but will it end with them? Every 'glorious uncertainty' in the game from now on will stink of a taint. The gap between a mistake and a crime has narrowed. A pure game has been over-run by suspicion. We have been devoured by deceit.


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More about Gaurav Kalra

Gaurav Kalra has been producing sports content on television for over a decade. He started his career at Trans World International where for four years he worked on a variety of programming including magazine shows, news bulletins and live broadcasts. In his next role at Quintus, Gaurav produced a series of programming under the Wisden brand name, including the Wisden Indian cricketer of the century and the Wisden Awards. Gaurav joined CNN-IBN as Sports Editor in 2005.
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