Danish Kaneria is the most recent addition to the ever-growing and ever-prominent list of Pakistani players whose names have been mentioned in any sort of wrongdoing. It has been alleged that Kaneria and one more Essex player were involved in match fixing in a county match
Are Pakistani players really involved in these shady dealings or is this just some kind of scheme contrived by haters to demean and demoralise Pakistani cricketers and fans? Will we ever know the truth?
Kaneria has had ups and downs in his career and invites a range of opinion about his value to the team. Statistically he is amongst the best bowlers Pakistan has produced, yet there have been innumerable occasions where his control and accuracy have been substandard and calls have been made to drop him from the team. Kaneria’s golden period came under Inzamam’s time when not only was Kaneria the team’s “trump card”, Inzamam also fed off Kaneria’s successes and Kaneria made Inzamam appear a better batsman than Inzamam actually was, as Kaneria kept taking 4 and 5 wicket hauls in those matches in which Inzamam scored heavily. However, after Inzamam’s departure Kaneria has seemed unable to control his bowling and frequently releases pressure off the batsmen after bowling a few good deliveries.
This shocking news comes against the backdrop of PCB penalising Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved for alleged match fixing (although no official reports have emerged as to why these players were actually banned). Previously, almost all of the players who played under Wasim Akram (Inzamam, Malik, Ijaz, Saqlain, Waqar, Ata-ur-Rehman)- all of these names were mentioned in the Qayyum Report which was the first judicial enquiry into sport of its kind in the world. In fact Qayyum in his interview said that, normally boards that run sport have to conduct an internal enquiry but it was considered that the PCB was itself involved in match fixing at the highest level, which is why a judge was asked to conduct an independent enquiry.
This raises many questions, about the integrity of Pakistani cricketers and the people of Pakistan in general. Strangely enough, Sohaib Alvi of Dawn wrote an article yesterday citing that character has disappeared from modern cricket and the cricketers are uneducated and arrogant with no regard for the country or pride. Yet, how far are we, the observers of this unique drama, expected to take this statement? Is match fixing so prevalent that we have to assume it is just a part of Pakistan cricket which cannot be eradicated? What ramifications does this have on the morale of the Pakistani people, and the future of sport in the country?
Although match fixing is associated mainly with Pakistani players, it is considered that its origins lie within the Mumbai underworld. Although we hear of Lahore bookies and Karachi bookies, the roots of modern-day match fixing are in India. Yet, it is surprising how Indian players are generally not suspected of this evil, but almost every Pakistani player has been associated with it. Why is it that the bookies find it so easy to approach Pakistani players? Why does the PCB not do anything about this? And why is it considered that senior officials like Shafqat Rana, Yawar Saeed and Ijaz Butt themselves are involved in corruption?
This thread raises more questions than answers, because the concept of match fixing is something that remains clouded in mystery. There is no smoke without fire and the players and Board officials will have to be more forthright about this. The Pakistani public deserves to know about what actually happens behind closed doors and why the links between Pakistani players and bookies are so inextricable that we keep hearing the words “match fixing” with the word, “Pakistan”.