3.11.11

Corrupted Idealism

For me, match fixing seemed an abstract concept until the Lord's Test between England and Pakistan in August 2010. I knew it had gone on, of course. I'd seen the fall of Cronje, and Azhar, and Salim Malik and the rest. Years ago I'd read the Qayyum Report from cover to cover and briefly wondered about the future of the game.

But, whatever the doubts, it was soon time to get back to the game. The battle between bat and ball was all that mattered, even if Pakistan were playing. Some things - such as cricket itself - just seemed too great to be corrupted, especially if you were prone to romantic idealism.

All that changed at Lord's. I saw virtually every ball (and no-ball) of that game, bought the News of the World for the one and only time in my life and then thought about what it all meant and what was likely to happen next.

Now we know.

Two and a half years for Butt, one year for Asif and six months for Amir.

Nobody should mourn Butt and Asif for a moment. Butt was a decent opening batsman and a promising captain, though, in truth, nothing above the ordinary at Test level. Asif was a really outstanding bowler, but there had been enough troubles in his career even before Lord's to show that he was never likely to fulfil his huge potential.

Amir is different. His statement of contrition and regret, though overdue, is very sad, and I hope that, one day, he can return to the game he was so very good at.

My enduring memory of those days at Lord's still has Stuart Broad and Jonathan Trott walking off on Friday evening with an unbroken stand of 244 to their names, but there is another.

Before the game started I was walking through the door which leads from the Lord's Long Room to the stairs up to the away team's dressing room when I nearly bumped into Mohammad Asif. He was tall and stick thin, with a faraway look on his face. Neither of us quite felt the need to apologize, but then I got the impression he'd barely noticed my presence.

As this shows, I really admired him, and so I readily forgave him, assuming he was thinking about the day's play and what he had to do.

That's the trouble. He was.

2 comments:

chrispscricket said...

Like you, I have reviewed and revisited my experience at Lord's on 26-27 August 2010: http://wp.me/p1OY5E-1o. The criminal justice system has disposed of the miscreants (that were caught). Are we now safe to look at those two days for the cricket that took place?

Brian Carpenter said...

Chris, thanks for your comment, and sorry to have taken a while to reply.

I've spent most of the last year or so trying to hang on to the idea that the Trott-Broad partnership didn't lose anything after the fixing was exposed, but I'm not sure I can carry on doing so anymore, for the reasons which Third Man has expressed so well on his site, both in response to your post and at the time.

However, like you, I thought Trott's innings was magnificent, and I see no reason to revise that judgement completely on the basis of speculation and incomplete knowledge.

Nobody, apart from those involved, knows the extent of what went on. The best we can hope for is that Butt may one day accept his guilt and talk more about the true extent of what happened (assuming there's more to say, which there probably is).

Cheers, from a 'Senior Pro'.

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