Sport is about pushing boundaries that is what appeals to the players and fans alike. Sadly in the cricket world they have been pushing boundaries to the extreme in the past ten years.
It was in the year 2000 that Delhi Police revealed they had a recording of a conversation between Cronje and a representative of an Indian betting syndicate, Sanjay Chawla, relating to match-fixing allegations. Within no time other players around the globe were implicated.
Cronje accepted responsibility for his crime and admitted that it was greed that had made him betray the game that had given him fame.
Cronje was banned from the game for life, from all forms of the game, even coaching children. Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams were suspended from international cricket for six months. Gibbs was fined ZAR60,000 and Williams ZAR10,000. Pieter Strydom who was also implicated received no punishment.
The ICC sighed a huge sigh of relieve but did little to follow up the accusations that surfaced about other International players around the globe. Neither did they come up with a policy should other players down the track be caught helping “arrange” issues in matches; issues that may not have affected the game, but from which dubious personalities made financial gains.
Last week we saw the Southwark Crown Court in London send three Pakistan Cricketers to jail for their part in arranging to bowl no-balls for money. This did not affect the result but it brought the essence of the game into disrepute. Cricket has always been a game where honesty and chivalry were supposed to be unquestionable.
The fact that these three, Salman Butt, Mohammed Amir and Mohammed Asif decided to carry out these offences at the home of Lords was blasphemous to cricket fans.
Most cricket fans around the world applaud the judge’s decision. If these supposed role models are to decide that money is more important than the honour of representing your country, and that the trimmings that come with honour are not enough for you to drag a game that is centuries old into the gutter then they deserve to be sent away to think about their actions.
What is so sad for Cricket fans across the world is that the game’s governing body did little since the Cronje affair in 2000 to investigate and try and put a stop to these illegal goings on. It took an undercover journalist to reveal the corruption. For that those involved in the game should request a clean sweep and a review of those entrusted with running the game.
This is not new to sport, but action taken must be swift and a serious deterrent. In the 1960’s three footballers from Sheffield Wednesday, Peter Swann, Tony Kay and David Layne were involved in fixing a match against Ipswich Town, a game that Swann claimed Ipswich won fair and square. All three were convicted of conspiracy to defraud. Kay was banned for life, later rescinded to seven years; Swann was banned for life as was Layne but his ban was also rescinded seven years later. All went to prison.
Cricket, the game will survive. Its reputation may well be tarnished, it will possibly be sullied even more unless strong leadership is shown by the ICC to find ways to continually investigate and eradicate similar betting scandals. If the current leaders lack the ability to fulfill these duties then others must be found to run the game who can. Time is passing and can longer be allowed to slip by without serious changes being made, for the good of the game.