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The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

Give Mohammad Amir Another Chance

with 8 comments

A billion dollars can’t buy you an ounce of the talent that oozes out of Pakistan’s young left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Amir. Is there anything that an aspiring fast bowler would not trade to-have-even-half of what this 18-year-old boy has in abundance? And is it, therefore, a rational question to ask that why would the proud possessor of such rare gifts betray his calling? And what is it in the cricketing world that is even remotely as valuable as what Amir already has?

Money, and more money. The answer, if proved, is not surprising but shameful as it says less about Amir and more about the world of grown-ups in which he is no more than just a cog. Amir has made the cricket this summer worth watching: That eagerness to grab the ball, the jouissance in his delivery stride that is akin to the flight of an eagle, and the bite that is as venomous as the sting of a viper. He’s engineered batting collapses, made the ball talk with late movement and perfect length, and on certain days he’s looked like taking a wicket almost every ball.

What has the ICC or the various cricket boards done this summer apart from making big bucks by striking lucrative deals? What portion of the money that cricket generates trickles down to the players who shed their blood and sweat on the field and what portion goes to bloating-and-gloating cricket administrators? I don’t know the answer, I’m just curious.

I find it difficult to blame young Amir and exonerate the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the International Cricket Council (ICC), and the seniors of the Pakistani cricket team. A boy of 18 would not have even dreamt of doing this had it not been for the corroding influence of his team’s seniors.

The best of mankind’s youth start out in life with a sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one’s life is important and that great achievements are within one’s capacity. The great Wasim Akram had 45 scalps after 14 Tests and Amir at the same juncture has 51. It could be a stellar career. Now the administrators would hang this young boy knowing fully-well that what he has done comes nowhere close to what they do all of their lives.

Would the entire Commonwealth Games scandal come out in the open and the guilty punished? Will we get to know who made what-should-not-have-been-made in the IPL scam? I am doubtful. Although I am pretty certain something would be handed over as punishment if the spots stick to the three accused in the Lord’s Test. Columnist Pradeep Magazine said that the system that pollutes the mind of someone so young should take the blame—the PCB, the ICC, and the team seniors was what he said categorically.

In her introduction to the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of The Fountainhead author Ayn Rand wrote: “It is not in the nature of man—nor of any living entity—to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man.” The youth getting corrupted says a lot about those that are past their prime and are running the affairs of the world.

Now there is a lot of talk about how the involved players should be punished severely and that an example should be made of them so that it serves as a deterrent for the future. Should we turn a blind eye towards the bigger problems that the sport faces and hang those few found guilty of spot-fixing?

Suddenly you have players from most countries talking about how they were approached by bookies and how they did or did not report the incidents. Why is all this talk coming out now? Mohammad Amir is an insanely-talented cricketer and that is to his credit but he is also a product of a corrupt environment. That corrupt environment will now punish him and would then claim to have cleaned itself. That, alas, is called justice.

If cricket is to be salvaged as a sport then the cleaning up must begin at the right place, at the source of corruption. The rotten cricket administration that makes the big bucks on the backs of talented players needs to be made accountable and the brouhaha that is being made about the tip of the iceberg has to stop. Australian writer Gideon Haigh wrote after the Lord’s Test: “Corruption has become cricket’s gravest challenge, and it neither begins nor ends with the Pakistan cricket team.”

Shane Watson rightly questioned whether the ICC really wants to eradicate match-fixing and spot-fixing from cricket due to fears the problem might run too deep.

Watson said the fact a newspaper was responsible for highlighting the irregularities involving Pakistan’s recent performances showed the ICC’s system was unsuccessful. “The ICC anti-corruption unit is not really working,” he said during a sponsor’s function in Sydney. “That’s totally to do with the ICC, so they really need to step in and really get to the bottom of it. Maybe they don’t want to get to the bottom of it because it might run too deep.”

Mass murderers get away in this stinking dunghill of a world. Criminals sit in public offices and racists set agendas for nations. Amir deserves more than a second chance given the kind of people we put up with every day of our life. Don’t forget, he’s just 18.

8 Responses

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  1. I completely agree with you. Certain things can happen to 18 year-olds when they are surrounded by people like Asif and Shoaib Akhtar. Asif should be punished severely, he was already in jail for smuggling drugs, he came back a while later, he should definately go. Butt is the captain, he was involved, he should go. Amir on the other hand should get at maximum a 1-year ban, missing the World Cup would teach him a big lesson in life.

    Basim Khan

    September 22, 2010 at 5:55 am

  2. Letting off Amir, and the passionate logic given to exonerate him, while being a plea to save a talented young cricketer, is like giving the youngest and novice robber a rap on the knuckles but throwing rest of the robbers into prison.

    Both ICC and the PCB need to set a precedent and give a clear message – anybody caught betting/fixing will be punished. Raise the price of getting caught.

    Since betting can’t be policed, is without borders, and rarely leaves a trail – plug the other end as much as possible.

    Within this context, it is critical that Amir is punished. One can debate about the nature of punishment, and if Amir proves to have acted naively, good for him. Show him lenience.

    But considering him as a young innocent gazelle unwittingly sucked into peer pressure to drink at the pond where Lions like to drink, will endanger the very genetic pool of world cricket.

    Also, the excuse that Pakistani cricketers let themselves be bribed because the PCB is a poorly financed board, and is unable to host matches at home, is just that, an excuse. Sri Lanka went through hell – don’t see their cricketers wearing jackets of fixers stuffed with dirty money.

    Clearly, fingers also point at the PCB. They have been not only helping themselves to the English pudding, and deserts in other countries, they have also allowed it to be cooked and offered the oven for it.

    What irony – the chef is conducting an inquest into a main course that he oversaw, tasted, found sour, and is now blaming the Restaurant down the street!

    Adios Amigo!
    Rohit Karir

    Rohit Karir

    September 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    • That the PCB is poorly-financed is rubbish as Rameez Raza clearly said that the players have central contracts and are reasonably paid. Now it is coming out that Amir was lured in by skipper Salman Butt.

      I am not saying Amir is not at fault but I stress that he is still a young swimmer in the muddy waters of Pakistan cricket and may not have been fully-aware of the dirt around him. If he acted under pressure from seniors then his case must be viewed differently as he is not a repeat offender. As you have said that if he acted naively then a lenient approach can be taken.

      I am of the view that he should be given a second chance after some punishment; the nature of which as you said can be debated. Cricket would be richer if he is taken in after he has learnt his lesson.

      Deepan Joshi

      September 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm

      • All three cricketers alleged to have taken part in spot fixing are talented. Butt and Asif are also young enough to play for another 8-10 years. So I don’t think youth, violation of serious rules, and proxy peer pressure should be equated or confused for leniency, or even used for selective administration of justice.

        Amir or no Amir, Pakistan will continue to produce fast bowlers. PCP and ICC needs to give such upcoming players a message that if they are caught betting, their career will be at stake.

        The way Darrell Hair has lashed out today at Pakistani cricketers, terming them as liars, cheats and frauds, is an opportunity for PCB to clean up their act.

        Administering justice to an “exception”, if handled incorrectly, or perceived negatively, can be counterproductive.

        Between the accused players, ICC, and PCB, somebody will have to come up with the “teesra”, because the “doosra” hasn’t worked.

        Rohit Karir

        Rohit Karir

        September 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

  3. I think we have to agree to disagree. All that you say has merit and I think it is partly the cricket fan in me that yearns to see someone like Amir perform. I have watched him bowl all summer and believe me there has been no sight in cricket that has been as pleasing as the masterclass that this boy has produced.

    I am all for a lenient approach towards Amir but if he too is neck deep in corruption then I guess that the cricket administration will have to dispense punishment equitably.

    Deepan Joshi

    September 27, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  4. Deepan
    your piece on Amir is a brilliant example depicting how a passionate fan, if he happens to be a brilliant writer can sound so convincing in pleading the case of a guilty/suspect player on a compassionate ground.
    High time Amir’s lawyers consulted you!!!!!

    aditya kant

    October 4, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  5. Aditya,
    I am aware that there is a problem in defending the indefensible. Contrarian; perhaps yes. It is also interesting to check the origin of the word.

    “To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do.” (Christopher Hitchens,‘Letters to a young Contrarian’)

    Deepan Joshi

    October 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

  6. Amir is a bad example to the younger generation and should be punished just like others who are found guilty of match fixing.
    Just because the sports governing bodies are corrupt, like in every other sport, players cannot let their nations down and that is the bottom line. Cricket is almost like a religion in the subcontinent and thus people have faith in the cricketers.

    How can Amir be trusted even if he is given a second chance? Every young cricketer in the future should know the rights and wrongs, please do not waste time and support cheats who are playing for their self-interest and not the country’s.

    Raghav Sikka

    October 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

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