Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cricket is returning to its roots

We shouldn't be starry-eyed about cricket. Its practitioners are not as painfully honest as golfers or snooker-players. As this essay makes clear, cricket would not have developed into a national, then international, game without gambling. Along with the gambling came corruption. The image of cricket as an icon of sportsmanship and participation for the love of it has always been a false one, no doubt fostered by our Victorian empire-building forebears. Even in his own day, the hallowed Dr WG Grace was known to indulge in gamesmanship.

However, the involvement of large betting organisations in Asia has taken the corruption to a new level. One remembers sadly the termination of the career of Mohammad Azharuddin, a beautiful batsman and, as a Muslim in India, someone who could have been a model for multiculturalism in that state. Then there was Hansie Cronje, the apparently God-fearing South African all-rounder who led his country in the early post-apartheid era. Both were corrupted by money from gambling. Now it looks as if Pakistan's best young bowler, and someone who looks as if he would justify a place in a World XI before long, Mohammed Aamer, has also been persuaded to stain his career by bowling no-balls to order. We are a long way from charges being brought, but the prima facie case, from Jonathan Agnew's testimony that the transgressions were extremely obvious, is strong.


Frank H Little said...

It gets worse - large quantities of bank notes are reported to have been found in some Pakistanis' hotel rooms.

Frank H Little said...

Evidence of the pervasiveness of betting scams comes from Shane Warne in the Sydney Morning Herald.