The latest scandal to strike Pakistan cricket comes in the form of wicketkeeper-batsman Zulqarnain Haider leaving the team camp in Dubai for England. In an interview since, he has informed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of his retirement from international cricket. According to media reports, Zulqarnain — fearing for his life — pulled a ‘no-show’ only hours before the fifth and decisive one day international against South Africa.
If his claims are true, then alarm bells should be ringing at the International Cricket Council (ICC) headquarters and across the cricketing world. No matter what, a sport is not and cannot be more important than the life of a professional player. The ICC must extend all possible resources available in aid of Zulqarnain Haider. It was a smart move on the part of the Pakistani security forces to extend police protection to his family at this precarious time. However, the decision by 24-year-old Zulqarnain to leave Dubai after receiving a threat outside his hotel without informing the PCB or team management speaks volumes about the level of trust between our players and the PCB. The president of Pakistan has also not helped by refusing to bring changes to the PCB, even in the light of these sinister events. Furthermore, due to the continuous mismanagement of the PCB, unimaginable sorrow has been heaped on to the sport’s passionate supporters.
Geoff Lawson, former coach of the Pakistan team, gave the world an insight into the wheeling and dealings of the underworld when he declared in a newspaper article that a selector begged for the inclusion of a player, otherwise his daughter will be kidnapped. In this particular incident Geoff Lawson spoke to the then president, Pervez Musharraf, who resolved the matter. The elephant in the room is the link between people wielding power and bookmakers. It is alleged that a top bookmaker and mafia don has connections with a powerful intelligence agency in Pakistan.The time has come for the PCB, the ICC, the cricketing community and the world of sports to wake up to the epidemic of illegal match fixing. Whether it was the no-ball scandal in England earlier this year or the infamous Calciopoli in Italy’s football league in 2006, what is undeniable is that the rot is spreading. Right now the life of a young talented professional athlete is in danger. The sporting world must come together to help itself against this life-threatening cancer of match fixing – dailytimes