Tag Archives: Cricket

Corruptions of Cricket

‘Corruptions of Cricket’ by Tariq Ali for the Guardian, August 30, 2010

Whether in cricket or in politics, corrupt leaders—bar notable exceptions—are often all Pakistan has …

Poor Pakistan. Floods of biblical proportions; millions homeless; a president who pretends to be shocked by cricket’s latest betting scandal when his own persona is the embodiment of corruption. A prime minister shedding crocodile tears because of the cricketing “shame” rather than tending to allegations that flood-relief money has gone missing. And now a sleep-walking cricket captain attempting to deny the ugly truth, but without real conviction, hoping against hope that he will ride out the crisis like others before him and that his bosses in Pakistan’s cricket establishment will cast a veil over this one as well.

Even if guilty, Salman Butt and his vice-captain Kamran Akmal will try to give the appearance of having no idea of the seriousness of the allegations and will try to talk their way back, hoping, as in the past, that after a few gentle raps on the knuckles they can revert to business as usual. That would be a real tragedy, a green light to semi-legalise match fixing, and not just in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Cricket Board is a long-standing joke, its chairmen replaced with every change of government. The current boss, Ijaz Butt, is the brother-in-law of Pakistan’s defence minister, a crony of President Zardari. The International Cricket Council and the England and Wales Cricket Board—somewhat pathetic bodies dominated by political and financial interests respectively—should not fudge this one. Whether Pakistan batting collapses were psychological or based on material interests we still do not know. But the moral collapse of this team stares all cricket-lovers in the face. Any perpetrators should be on the next plane home and the ringleaders given life bans. If guilty, the teenage bowling sensation Mohammad Amir should be banned for some years. His idol, Wasim Akram, is not the best role model on this front.

Some of the media comments on this affair are interesting, but irrelevant. Yes, WG Grace was a cheat on and off the field. Yes, captains of other teams—India and South Africa—have engaged in similar practices. Yes, the betting syndicates are a major part of the problem. So what? Since when has one crime justified another? How many times have I heard apologists for corrupt Pakistani politicians justifying their pillage by arguing that Europe and America also have corrupt politicians. The problem is that in Pakistan that’s all we have, with few exceptions—one of whom is Imran Khan, who was also Pakistan’s finest and most incorruptible captain. read more

From the archive

  • ‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’

    March 1, 2006

    ‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Mar-Apr 2006

    Looking down on the world from the imperial grandeur of the Oval Office in the fall of 2001, the Cheney–Bush team was confident of its ability to utilize the September events to remodel the world. The Pentagon’s Vice Admiral Cebrowski summed up the linkage of capitalism to war: ‘the dangers against which US forces must be arrayed derive precisely from countries and regions that are “disconnected” from the prevailing trends of globalization’. Five years later, what is the balance sheet?

    On the credit side, Russia, China and India remain subdued, along with Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Here, despite the attempts of Western political science departments to cover the instrumentalist twists of US policy with fig-leaf conceptualizations—‘limited democracies’, ‘tutelary democracies’, ‘illiberal democracies’, ‘inclusionary autocracies’,  …

  • ‘It’s no secret what Pakistan’s been doing with the Taliban’

    July 30, 2010

    Tariq Ali on Pakistan’s role in the war in Afghanistan for the Guardian, July 30, 2010

    All sides know what’s been going on since Afghanistan was first occupied. It’s also clear that this war can’t be won …

    David Cameron’s post-WikiLeaks remarks on Pakistan helping the enemy in the Hindu Kush shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The carefully orchestrated “outburst” in India was designed to please his hosts and seal a few business deals (Cameron and Cable are fagging for the British arms industry). It’s all part of the schmoozing.

    Pakistan’s official response was equally disingenuous. Since it’s impossible for Islamabad to attack the organ grinder, it went for the monkey.

    Meanwhile all sides know full well what the Pakistan army has been doing with various Taliban factions since Afghanistan was occupied nearly nine years ago. Three years  …

  • In Turkish Kurdistan

    November 16, 2006

    ‘In Turkish Kurdistan’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review of Books (Diary), November 16, 2006

    It was barely light in Istanbul as I stumbled into a taxi and headed for the airport to board a flight for Diyarbakir, the largest Kurdish city in eastern Turkey, not far from the Iraqi border. The plane was full, thanks to a large party of what looked like chattering students with closely shaved heads, whose nervous excitement seemed to indicate they’d never left home before. One of them took the window seat next to my interpreter. It turned out he wasn’t a student but a newly conscripted soldier, heading east for more training and his first prolonged experience of barrack-room life, perhaps even of conflict. He couldn’t have been more than 18; this was his first time on a plane. As  …