The sorry saga of the match fixing story of Pakistan continues into the 7th day with a strange twist. A counter claim has been put across that they were set up. Needless to say that the tactic of a best defence is a good offence!! No matter how this will play out in the future, the incident has served to unearth a sinister aspect to cricket in the Indian sub continent.
Cricket is big business in the Indian sub continent. Players are paid relatively well; there are sponsorships and the glamour. A telling interview in today’s Cricinfo with a former Indian player highlights the burdens of playing cricket in the Indian subcontinent: money, fame and narcissism. At the young ages that cricketers go into, they become vulnerable to temptation and unaware of how to handle fame and fortune.
In recent years, the appearance of Twenty 20 cricket and in particular the Indian Premier League has logarithmically evolved the amount of burden and temptation that players have to face. Cricket has become transformed from the quiet quintessential Sunday afternoon Englishman’s game to one of high stakes, fast women and fast money.
With the money that is flowing around the Indian subcontinent often from illicit deals, drugs, weapons smuggling and all other vices, cricket proves a very easy market for disposable income to be flushed around. The appearance of bookies (often from India) with millions of rupees (and dollars) to spend using all sorts of ways to tempt the players shows that the sport has now become much more than competition between nations. It is about money, corporate sponsorship and power.
Caught in the middle are the (often very young) players who come from very poor backgrounds, and in the transition between teenage years and adulthood, are thrust into the limelight with enormous pressure.
Whilst these players are being chastised, this is but the tip of the iceberg. The problem lies much deeper and the solutions will need to go to the heart of the problem.