The cricket world is still reeling from the story that first appeared on the front page of the News of the World alleging that some Pakistan players were involved in incidents of spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test.
My reaction was much the same as anyone associated with the game: surprise and disappointment at yet another controversy diverting everyone’s attention from everything good about the recent Test series.
At this stage it is important to note that these are only allegations and until the outcome of the ongoing investigation is known it is difficult to make any concrete comment.
Governing bodies and player associations have a responsibility to ensure the game and those who participate in it are protected from such corruption.
The ECB and the Professional Cricketers’ Association, for example, work closely in rolling out a programme to educate all county squads about such matters.
The programme sets out to inform players of the dangers and consequences of becoming involved in such activity. It also provides information on the appropriate reporting procedure if a player is faced with an approach.
In the absence of such programmes and without the necessary information of the methods and consequences involved, it is difficult for young players to be prepared if they are faced with such situations.
Similar programmes have been undertaken by respective player associations in their own territories. In countries where there are no such players’ associations, the onus for running relevant education programmes falls entirely on the governing boards.
The ICC does run a programme for those that have been selected to play international cricket, but arguably this may be too late.
I have no intention of pre-judging what may or may not have happened in this latest incident. But I hope for the integrity of cricket that the allegations are not as serious as they appear.
It cannot be right for the vast majority of players to play against people who might be involved in such organised activity and equally it is not right for supporters who pay good money expecting to see a legitimate contest.
As things stand, at least in the short term, it seems Pakistan will field a weakened team in the upcoming 20 and 50 over internationals. This in turn deprives the England team an opportunity to test themselves fully as Twenty20 world champions and also as they prepare to build a squad for the 50-over World Cup.
I only hope that current events, as disconcerting as they have been, prove to be a watershed. The challenge for everyone in the game is to ensure corruption is rooted out properly.
*Vikram Solanki is chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association