September 20th, 2010
06:12 PM ET

Should tabloids be cricket's judge and jury ?

Pakistan's cricketers have come under the media microscope after a series of tabloid investigations
Pakistan's cricketers have come under the media microscope after a series of tabloid investigations

Some years ago there was a footballer in the top flight of the English game called Vinnie Jones.

A committed hard man, for sure, but also a player who only had to breathe on an opponent to get the referee reaching for his card and the football authorities up in arms in righteous indignation.

It was a monkey see monkey do situation, a self-fulfilling prophecy which played right into the hands of the tabloid media whose stock in trade is negativity.

We see it off the sports field too, with wayward celebrities singled out by the tabloids as the “It” girls or boys.

Or, more appropriately, the “Get” girls or boys. American movie star, Lindsay Lohan, is a current example. She can’t do right for doing wrong in the eyes of the tabloid media who’ve put a target on her back with a paparazzi lens trained on the bullseye.

At present, the “Get” boys in sport are the cricketers of Pakistan. “Exposed” in the last few weeks as allegedly inveterate cheats, they’ve been portrayed by Britain’s Sun and News of the World newspapers, (both from the News Corporation stable), as players who’ll throw no balls and surrender their wickets with impunity if it means getting their hands on the payola offered by the world’s equally inveterate gambling syndicates.

There’s even a sexy new buzzword to headline the whole sorry affair “Spot Fixing”..

ta-dah!….All this without, as yet, a shred of corroborated evidence beyond that offered by the tabloid investigation.

In time of course, it may all turn out to be true. Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, Wahab Riaz, or any combination thereof, may have colluded with a syndicate in a cash for no-balls betting scam.

The entire Pakistani cricket team, or certain members of it, may, inexplicably, have thrown caution to the wind while already under the microscope, and failed to play with a straight bat against England in the third one day international of their series. But the fact is we don’t know.

That, of course, never worries a tabloid news editor. It’s the casting of aspersions that sells, and, at present, that’s what we’re dealing with here.

Plus, if those aspersions can stir up a bonus hornets nest, as seems to be the case with the counter claim by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt, who says bookies have intimated that it was England that lost on purpose, then that’s all grist to the mill, because this story can run and run.

Therefore, with such dubious motivations underlying the bearers of bad news I’m pleased to see that the International Cricket Council is proceeding with extreme caution.

Not only because the claims against Pakistan undermine the integrity of one of the world’s most passionate cricket-playing nations, and therefore one of the sport’s most lucrative markets, but also because the ICC’s own reputation is on the line.

It’s already been embarrassed by the fact that a tabloid news organization appears to know more about what’s really going on in cricket than the sport’s governing body.

And it now needs to tread a very careful path by way of a response to maintain its own credibility. Yes, we live in the print and be damned world of the tabloids, but the burden of proof should still lie with the prosecution. And, as far as I can see, for the moment, the cricketers of Pakistan only appear guilty by reputation.

 

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soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. RAB

    ICC anti corruption cell is of no use, they just initiated an inquiry against Pakistan by a baseless report . Why ICC only comes to know when a some1 out of ICC finds it out and still there is no proof. ICC has not established anything against Pakistan three players and still they are suspended. This is clearly very biased!!!

    September 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  2. Fred Titmus

    I don't think the editor of a national newspaper would have run a story containing such serious allegations of spot fixing without due consideration for the facts. Mr Baddoo should take out a subscription to 'The Wisden Cricketer' rather than pass judgement on a issue where he clearly lacks the assumed knowledge of the game to offer any informed opinions. Stick to writing about football.

    September 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  3. ALi

    PAKISTAN RULEZZZZZZZZZZZZ !!!!!!!

    September 21, 2010 at 1:17 am | Reply
  4. Pakistani

    I love cricket and I love to see my cricket team performing on ground. Spot fixing case should be handled by ICC not by the Media and if any one is involved, should be given appropriate punishment.

    September 21, 2010 at 4:41 am | Reply
  5. SK

    Since I don't follow all the game or all the tabloids, won't be fair commenting too much in general terms. In specific case of Pakistan's british tour, I will say that either trapped or not, if gets, proven, Pakistan's trio of Amir, Asif and Salman did participate so should be punished accordingly. But this latest tirade of tabloids suggesting third ODI between England and Pakistan was fixed only to the entent of Pakistan team's run rate is nothing but absolute rubbish.

    There seems to be heavy politics involved here considering upcomign world cup in India. I don't want to sound like blaming India in Pakistan's problems but in this case that angle definitely is at play. One possible factor is that to avoid security and visa concerns, Indian govt would want to avoid Pakistan at every cost and that is already proven with forceful exclusion of Pakistani players from IPL etc. In normal circumstances they can't do that especially for such a big event- their innovative solution to this problem is to get Pakistani team banned so neither Pakistani team will be available for the tournament nor Indian govt and Indian cricket board will have to deal with this situation.
    How else one would explain this- Inidian bookies, Indian in Dubai dealing with these bookies, British so-called tabloid involved so secretively and then aggressive involvement even before the match of ICC CEO, Haroon Logart, (who everyone know that is against Pakistani team from day one).
    Irony is that Britishers are playing along very nicely- so much for the love of the game.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:25 am | Reply
  6. esreddy3

    It really does not matter how the truth comes out. Because truth remains a fact. If they accept money to play a certain way and cheat, its the fault of the cricketers themselves. Just because these tabloids lure them with money does not mean the cricketers have to fall for it. And if they fall, it just shows what they are made of, a weak will and a strong urge to CHEAT.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:39 am | Reply
  7. Shahid

    Still not very colorful what has happen must never be repeated again Professional players earn more than educated persons greed is the worst enemy for anyone it reflect on you and your country walk on a straight line shine upon you.
    Think real hard what path you want to choose you all are representing the country that has a bad names in this trouble times Pakistan is our country respect her always.

    September 21, 2010 at 5:41 am | Reply
  8. paki

    now ....where are the remarks from the world after that win..............still there is fixing..???

    September 21, 2010 at 6:46 am | Reply
  9. khan

    Its a shame to see ICC being so weak and hollow from inside and following the path being laid by a tabloid whose soul purpose is to gain cheap publicity by degrading not a country but "cricket" itself. This is disastrous for the whole cricket world. ICC needs to do its self-analysis on ASAP basis to keep cricket clean from these cheap tabloids seeking fame through a pathetic way.

    September 21, 2010 at 7:29 am | Reply
  10. Baig

    ICC has gone overboard in accepting evidence which was clearly framed by tabloids. Mr. Baddoo is spot on.

    Give Pakistan the kind of board that perhaps ACB has and you'll have a better team than Australia.

    September 21, 2010 at 10:05 am | Reply
  11. Yasir

    ok let me admit . We are v corrupt. Most of us from Rikshaw driver to a head of the state is corrupt. Why wont the players be vulnerable when we with our own eyes watched the ball and pitch being scratched intentionally. Well the excuse ,that non pakistan players do the same is not acceptable.

    Despite all this its worst from authorities/tabloids to accuse the players without waiting for investigation results. I mean look at the figures 2010 and still this so called wise living organism on the earth is not knowing "HOW MUCH WE DAMAGE OUR OWN REPUTE" after accusing and abusing a person not proven guilty, representing a nation, just because that nation is corrupt. By not following what should be these tabloids ,ICC ,ECB and PCB all are proving themselves as CORRUPT.

    September 21, 2010 at 10:16 am | Reply
  12. Daud

    Latest allegation against PAKISTAN
    Razzak involved in match fixing........................REASON..........he took money to hit 5 fours in an over🙂
    Comeon British Media y r u quiet now, must be thinking of some new tricks.

    September 21, 2010 at 10:17 am | Reply
  13. naqi

    We can expect such baseless allegations from the British media. In 1992 World Cup when they lost they accused Pakistan team for ball tempring now again. Corrupt British media...shame on you...

    September 21, 2010 at 10:43 am | Reply
  14. Ishaq Malik

    couldn't agree more with the author.

    Pakistani cricketers may or may not have been involved, but it's not for the tabloids to decide.

    September 21, 2010 at 10:48 am | Reply
  15. alehandro

    This has all the hallmarks of a tabloid conspiracy, but may yet turn out to be all true. And that is the problem with the tabloid media of today. You can't trust them. They do print salacious stories with banner headlines and then when proven wrong, make their apologies in private or with half a par of copy buried somewhere deep in the publication. Tabloids play Russian roulette with the truth and the ICC has to be cautious in following their leads. Tabloids are all about selling papers. Should, in the fulness of time, the allegations be proven correct, then that's a bonus as far as they're concerned. If they're wrong then they still get their money either way. It's a no lose situation. But one thing I would add, if the tabloids were right all along, maybe cricket should replace the ICC with the same reporters who uncovered the betting scam, because they clearly have a better handle on what's going on.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:33 am | Reply
  16. Irtiza

    I don't think the ICC is being cautious. Its being downright fragile and its caving in to pressure from the ECB playing to the media gallery. The ECB stands to loose a lot of money if there is even a shred of doubt on the matches not being played with all players giving their best.

    The ICC is dominated by kingpins from the Indian BCCI which remains the largest monetary contributor to ICC. Incidentally the BCCI also doesn't want Pakistan's best pace attack to play cricket especially when India's batting is aging and the new generation aren't worth their salt outside the Indian sub-continent. It sends down familiar memories of 1990s when hardly any Indian batsment could withstand the blitzkrieg from Pakistan's Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

    Guilty unless proven innocent? How ironic. Surely, a 'consipiracy to defraud Pakistan'.

    September 21, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  17. karim

    now they (ICC, Tabloids, ECB, BCCI) will come out again shouting that the last 2 overs of Pakistan innings in 4th one day were also `Spot fixed` .............lolzzzz

    September 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  18. CricketFan

    When Pakistan produces reverse swing...its ball tampering; when England eventually learn to reverse swing...it becomes an art. Totally biased thinking.

    September 22, 2010 at 9:36 am | Reply
  19. kayode fola

    chelsea is one of d best club in world,

    September 23, 2010 at 6:52 am | Reply
  20. raju kc

    i like the team of pakistan , at that time when thay played well at fild , i dn;t like any match loose by pakistan . i hope they play well n anyhow won the match ,

    September 25, 2010 at 11:27 am | Reply
  21. Pravash

    Appropriate punishment should be given to guilty one by deep research,,,,,so that the next will not dare to do such shame deeds again,,,,,

    September 26, 2010 at 1:46 am | Reply
  22. khan

    Cricket is the only game where probabilities mulifply, and Pakistan is the only Cricket Team which is unpredictable. So long, the betting industry was making money from the forecasts on cricket, everything was okey; however, when Pakistan intiated unpredictable cricket, the betting industry started loosing money. The only way out was to buy players. Unless, games and betting industry are seperated, there will be accusation everywhere in the world. The question is: who gets the most of the money when it comes to betting on cricket? Everyone knows. The rest is just a tug of war.

    September 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  23. Waqar

    I do not see any difference between Scotland Yard and Pakistani Police. They even cant catch a bookie. Pity on them! :S

    September 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  24. Morad786

    I genuinely believe if these players represented any of the other major criketing nations such as Australia, England, India etc, the situation would have been handled in a very professional and correct manner by the ICC, the country's own Cricketing body and the Media would have been equally carefull and reserved!

    There is an element of truth in how Pakistan is targeted by Media in particular.

    We remember the Reverse Swing being called CHEATING and now it is becoming regular part of Cricket as other nations have developed the art!

    I wonder if these spot fixing allegations wre against England/Australia or others and whether the response of ICC, Media and other Cricketing Nations would have been the same....I guess we will have to wait and see as I do not think spotfixing is a single team issue!

    September 30, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Reply

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