One standard operating procedure of dealing with an accusation is to state loud and clear that everyone else is guilty of the same thing. That the subcontinental mind reaches for this mode of ‘defence’ was once again on display when Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) president Ijaz Butt ‘accused’ England of conspiring to “defraud” — we guess that ‘malign’ is what he must have meant — Pakistan cricket. And just as a follow-through, the Pakistani cricket official went on to add that there is “talk in bookies’ circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose”. It seems that Mr Butt was underlining the fact that the England players were supposedly paid “enormous” amounts to lose, as opposed to the relatively piddly amount always offered to (‘and never accepted by’) Pakistan’s cricketers. In case we had all been in Mars all this while,
Mr Butt was responding to charges against cricketers from his country being involved in ‘spot-fixing’ for which three players had been sent home earlier.
For something like corruption and ‘fixing’ in cricket, the jury in the past has been incredulously lax. Which isn’t that much of a surprise when you consider that the accused and the jury are from the same powerful entity called subcontinental cricket. With the cricketing establishment and the media in India-Pakistan-Sri Lanka always hovering their finger around the ‘racism’ trigger, it becomes that much more difficult for anyone to point fingers at them with utter confidence.
But accusing the England Cricket Board (ECB) of ‘defraud’ and of having match-fixers of their own in the team may have been an act of over-reach on PCB’s part — even if it was by insinuation. Now England has threatened to sue Pakistan for libel. Watch this space for ‘race relations’ willy nilly brought into the cricketing pitch as the usual shutting-up weapon.