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From One No Ball Scandal to Another

The last time I wrote was about the Randiv deliberate no-ball scandal.  You may recall Randiv bowled a no ball to hand the match to India and deny Sehwag his century.  If the fall out at the time was not enough, events of the last few days should make Randiv or any other clown think twice about doing that again!

England has beaten Pakistan 3-1 in the Test series but I’m afraid not too many are interested in the result.  What do the results mean, if anything?  Who can you trust?  Certainly not a Pakistani cricketer.  What can you say about a team that in four Test makes scores of 80, 72, 308 and 74, winning the 3rd Test and losing the others, of course.

It seems that the Pakis have been caught red-handed this time.  Thank goodness to the journalists (who for the sake of a buck and a story) have got them cold.  Before the day’s play, they knew which balls would be no balls, and thus it proved.  Now, we all know that umpires miss the odd no ball.  That is what the Mohammad As were overstepping by a good two feet or so, just to make sure.

It was just 10 years ago – in 2000 – when the Hansie Cronje affair erupted and a widespread match fixing scandal, that included many top Pakistani cricketers, gutted cricket.  Now, because the game was not cleaned up, here we go again, with Pakistani players at the centre of another scandal.  But let us not pretend that it is only Pakis who are involved.

Remember the IPL auction last year?  The whole Pakistan team, then the T20 World Champions, arrived for the auction – because the IPL teams had expressed interests in each player – and not a single one of them received a bid.  Why was that?  It seemed at the time as if there was some edict from higher authorities, although nobody knew what.  Then, later in the IPL season, match fixing allegations about IPL arose.  How about this:  The IPL match fixers, who are intimately acquainted with the IPL power brokers, knew that all of the Pakis were on the take but were associated with opposing fixers.  Now how are the IPL fixers supposed to control things with loose cannon Pakistanis involved, who are taking directions from other fixers?  Is that too cynical?  I think not.

The whole thing in England now is sordid.  The Pakis have been caught red-handed.  Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer are busted.  One tragedy is that they are both wonderful bowlers.  Asif’s ex-girlfriend has dropped him in it, divulging that he took bribes before the Australian tour (I’m not going to bother with that Sydney Test but it is more than the Mohammad A’s under scrutiny there).  Also remember that Asif was busted for drugs with Shoaib Akhtar in 2006.  He received a one year ban when Shoaib received two years.  His ex-girlfriend says he borrowed $3m from her (where did she get that sort of money from?) for bribes to have his suspension halved.  FYI, his girlfriend is Veena Malik (no relation to Salim) and is a big Pakistani TV and film star.  Hence all that money.  Who knows how much is true but Mohammad Asif has form with more than just the ball.

Cricket is tarnished once again.  Once again, we don’t know who to trust.  We don’t know which matches are meaningful.  Before the 4th Test, Steve Finn was “talking it up”.  Even though England lost the 3rd Test, Finn noted that Pakistan had been rolled for 80 and 72 and he didn’t see why that wouldn’t happen again in the 4th Test.  Now, how exactly did he know?  I’m not seriously suggesting that Finn is corrupt but perhaps players will start being more careful about making predictions.  Ponting has (stupidly) predicted that Australia will win the Ashes 5-0.  That seems unlikely.  Is he being a typical arrogant Aussie or does he know the people who can make it all happen?

Personally, I would count on the Ashes being contested fair and square.  However, the rest of the Pakistan tour of England should be called off.  I doubt the ICC will have the balls to do it but surely it is in the interests of common sense and decency to call it off.  The clock is ticking – they have a tour match against Somerset scheduled for Thursday and the first T20 is on Sunday (was there ever a more perfect game for fixing than T20 – who actually cares about the result).  And looking ahead, who would want to play Pakistan at all?  They can’t play cricket in their homeland and now these selfish players are jeopardizing the game itself in Pakistan.  The hunger stricken, flood stricken, war ravaged, cricket loving people of Pakistan deserve better.

One final thought.  If you are going to allow betting on things that can talk and walk on two legs, you are guaranteed to have corruption.

Randiv No Balls Scandal

I noticed in the recent match between Sri Lanka and India that India won easily and Sehwag was stranded on 99.  Oh well, it happens.  What I didn’t notice was that a scandal concerning this event has transpired.

This what happened: The scores were locked with Randiv bowling to Sehwag who was on 99.  Sehwag hit it for six.  India wins, Sehwag 105 not out.  Right?  Wrong.  Randiv had been called for a no ball, so the match was over the instant the umpire made the call.  But it gets better.  Randiv admitted to deliberately bowling the no ball to deny Sehwag his hundred.

Dear oh dear.  Sanga is sorry.  Randiv is sorry.  Sehwag is sorry but forgives.  You can read it all on Twitter.  Rolly Polly Ranatunga (the world’s best sport ever) is all indignant about the slur this could bring on Sri Lanka’s good name.  All I can say is that I’m glad no Anglo-Saxons were involved.

Postscript:  Just so that you are aware, a cricket match is over as soon as the target is achieved.  If a boundary is hit, the full compliment of runs is generally credited to the total and batsman.  However, for example, if one run is required and the batsman hits the ball to the boundary, it will not stand if the batsmen run and complete a single before the ball reaches the boundary.

The Long and Short of it

Overnight, England polished off Pakistan by a whopping 354 runs, demonstrating that they are clearly a better team than Australia.  Pakistan’s brittle batting was the difference as they managed just 182 and then 80 in the final innings, which ended on the fourth morning of the match.  Anderson, with 6/17 took 11 wickets in the match – his first ten wicket haul in a Test.

On the other side of the coin, the England batting was not that flash.  Apart from a 200 run partnership in the first innings and a hard hitting ton in the second from Prior, they had not much to get excited about.  Still, it was more than enough.

On the other side of the other coin, we had that cure for insomnia at Colombo SSC.  We are just about to start the third Test and I can’t say I’m hoping for more of the same.  Sure, it’s lovely to see legends like Tendulkar and Sangakkara filling their boots but 1300 runs and just 13 wickets in four days.  Yawn.  The Little Master scored his 48th century and made it a double (his fifth) for good measure.

One point of interest, perhaps, is that win, lose or draw, Sri Lanka will jump over Australia to third position on the Test rankings.  It’s just a question of by how much.  And if England can beat Pakistan 4-0, Australia will plummet to 5th.  And that is even before Australia faces India, in India in October.  If you want to do some predicting for yourself, here is the link:

http://icc-cricket.yahoo.net/match_zone/test_predictor.php

Here’s hoping something interesting will soon happen in the world of Test cricket.