Jailing of Butt, Asif, Amir is a strong message to others, but ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit has had little to do with the capture of any of the conspirators
It's time to cut through all the crap surrounding cricket's fixing problem. Sure, the jailing of three Pakistan players and a fixer sends a strong message to other players about what might happen to them if they decide to take a walk on the dark side. But what about all the questions left unanswered?
Marlon Samuels is back despite being caught. Pic/Getty Images
The Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) has had little to do with the capture of any of cricket's major conspirators. This is a concern, as there's enough information out there that surely more players should've at least had their cage rattled.
I had a conversation with an ACSU man that left me wondering if they really understand the type of people who are behind this dirty business. The ACSU guy expressed surprise when it was reported that the Pakistan players planned another fix in the Oval ODI against England.
He couldn't believe the players would be so brazen as to get involved again so soon after the newspaper sting on the Lord's Test had become public knowledge. The fact that he thought the players who had been compromised had some say in when the fix went down, left me incredulous. If he doesn't understand it's the crooks who make the demands once they've got their hooks into a player, then it's not surprising the ACSU doesn't catch more cricketers.
Serious crooks The troublemakers at the top are serious crooks with no morals, no compunction about the harm they cause and certainly no feelings for the game. And if anyone thinks Bob Woolmer's death wasn't slightly suspicious and that Pakistan players are the only ones involved in this racket, then I have a rewarding Nigerian investment opportunity you'd be interested in. Ronnie Flanagan, the head of the ACSU said, "The ICC is the enemy of any corrupt cricketer." That statement would be more credible if there weren't so many ex-players with high profile jobs in the game, who have either been adversely named in reports on match fixing or were members of a team captained by a match fixer.
It would also gain credibility if there was a life ban in place for every player involved in fixing. That's it - fixing is fixing in any form - get involved [and get caught] in the dirty business and your career in the game of cricket is over, for life. The fact that players like Marlon Samuels are allowed back into the game after being suspended doesn't imply zero tolerance to the crooks. The game needs to be more pro-active in unsettling suspect players or officials. A few well-placed threats to these players might produce some interesting results or at the very least, a nervy reaction.
A dirty venue And Flanagan's statement would also have more meaning if the ICC hadn't moved its headquarters to Dubai in 2004, shortly after Sharjah was dubbed "a dirty venue" in 2001. Some questionable games might've been played in Sharjah but the dirty money was coming from Dubai. There's no doubt that jail sentences for the three Pakistan players has sent a warning to all cricketers and officials. But what about cricket sending out an equally strong message to the crooks? So far cricket, with its fragmented international administration, hasn't done much to frighten off the crooks.
The game needs to come up with a cricket related method to end the career of any suspect rather than trying to do it solely through the courts. The chances of finding a suspect cricketer guilty in a court of law are slim. However, any suspicious behaviour by a player should first bring a warning from the authorities and any repeat performance would then result in his removal from the game.
There was one text from a 'low-life' that appeared among the evidence during the London court case. It said; "LET'S do it, let's get hold of f...ing cricket and squeeze everything we can from it." That should alert the cricket officials to the life or death struggle they're involved in and that's how they should approach any solutions to this game-threatening problem.