‘No Balls’ – Tariq Ali for the LRB Blog

Tariq Ali on Pakistan’s cricket scandal for the London Review of Books Blog, September 1, 2010

The mood in Pakistan is bitter, angry and vengeful. Effigies of Salman Butt have been burned, his name has been painted on donkeys and the no-ball bowlers are being violently abused all over the country. Demands that the corrupt cricketers be hanged in public are gaining ground. Among younger members of the elite there is shock that Butt (educated at a posh school) has let the side down. Mohammad Amir they could understand since he’s from a poor family. The blindness of this cocooned layer of young Pakistanis is hardly a surprise, but popular anger should not be underestimated. The no-ballers and their captain will need round-the-clock security when they return. Much better to take a long holiday abroad (surely they can afford it) and let tempers cool. There is enough evidence already for them to be suspended.

Meanwhile the pusillanimous Pakistan Cricket Board, whose chairman is the defence minister’s brother-in-law, should immediately rebrand itself the No-Balls Cricket Board. The coach, Waqar Younis, was once a brilliant bowler but was also involved in match-fixing, named and shamed ten years ago in the report of the Qayyum Commission, the last of three quasi-judicial enquiries in Pakistan. Javed Miandad, among others, testified that ‘during his captaincy he had been informed by Idress Cadbury, who is the brother of alleged bookie Hanif Cadbury, that Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and another player whose name he could not remember was on his brother’s books.’ The two stars were reprimanded and fined, but let off the hook. Hanif Cadbury was punished by the supreme command of the betting mafias, tracked down and murdered in South Africa—enough to deter other whistleblowers ever since. read more

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