Cricket has been in the news for the wrong reasons again recently with the jailing of three Pakistan players for their involvement in spot-fixing during the Lord’s Test against England last year.
Plenty has been said and written about that case in recent weeks so there is no need for me to go over old ground. I kept an eye on the coverage of the trial and my over-riding emotion is disappointment and sadness that cricket made the headlines again because of a scandal surrounding a corruption case.
Much was made of the fact that the three Pakistan players and an agent were caught by an undercover sting operation mounted by the News of the World newspaper rather than the International Cricket Council’s own Anti-Corruption Unit (ACSU).
I think that a little unfair. I’m not sure that it is within the remit of the ACSU to run the sort of elaborate undercover operation that the News of the World did.
I doubt whether they have the financial resources to put up large sums of cash as bait. You also have to wonder whether any evidence gathered by the ACSU in an undercover operation might be regarded as entrapment and would therefore be inadmissible in court.
The intention of the News of the World’s sting operation was not to eradicate corruption within cricket or to highlight problems within the game.
They carried it out because it was a potentially going to be a big story, one that would make front page headlines and uncomfortable reading for the ICC and everyone involved in cricket.
The motivation of the News of the World was not to rid cricket of corruption. That’s a matter for the ICC and all those who play and love the game.
The jail sentences handed out to the three Pakistan players should act as a deterrent to other players who might be led down the same path.
But the game has to be largely self-policing. Anti-corruption programmes such as the one introduced by the Professional Cricketers’ Association and England and Wales Cricket Board can certainly help to educate players.
Ultimately corruption in cricket will be rooted out if players are committed to ensuring that the game is clean.
The overwhelming majority of players regard corruption in any form as being abhorrent. Everyone who plays cricket has a duty to ensure they uphold its reputation for fair play by ensuring that none of the competitive elements of the game are ever compromised.
*Vikram Solanki, the Worcestershire and former England one-day international batsman, is chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association