During this last bank holiday weekend, l didn’t bother going to Lords to watch the England Vs Pakistan test match despite having member tickets. The allegations, which came so soon after the collapse of the Pakistani first innings, made me wonder what an earth is happening to their cricket! The depth of damage to this wonderful game cannot be understated, particularly because of the speed in which it has become major global news. I’d heard the newspaper vendor next door to Grace Gates had such a run on the News of the World, (not the normal read of MCC members), that he had to call for further supplies.
It’s often been said Pakistan’s inherent love and passion for the game has often kept it together, even at the most testing and toughest times, reflecting its national importance. However, coming so soon after the recent tragic floods and its ongoing battles against terrorism, this is yet another blow to Pakistani pride which will no doubt impact even further upon the nation’s psyche. If the allegations are founded, well frankly, this nation deserved better from its national team, so I’m not surprised by the very heart felt and emotional responses of disappointment which we’ve heard from Pakistanis, both in the UK and in Pakistan towards the team. In my view, these allegations cut deeper than the, not so long ago, Alex Higgins story of match fixing, for the simple reason that it’s not just about one individual, its about a team and an entire nation’s pride which has been trampled on.
I’ve got a ticket for the one day international at Lords between England & Pakistan on the 20th of September, but unless we see dramatic changes, and swift and decisive action by the Pakistani Cricket Board, I’m unlikely to go. I feel great pity to have to say this, because the last time l watched them play at Lords, they’d beaten Sri Lanka in the Twenty20 World Cup final last year, illustrating well the best of Pakistani cricket.
I, probably like many millions of other fans, will never be able to watch a no-ball in international cricket again, without wondering whether it was deliberate or not. How very disappointing. But whilst such events cost reputations, it does not cost lives in the same way that a flood does, so let’s get our perspective right on these things.