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Corruption scandals as damaging to Pakistan cricket as militant attack in 2009 – Zaheer Abbas

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas has become the latest from the country to call for fixing of any sort in the sport to be criminalised by law.

The topic has been heavily debated in Pakistan recently, with PCB chairman Ehsan Mani revealing in a podcast that he’d suggested to the government that the matter be legislated by law. Abbas has become the latest in a long list of former Pakistan greats to call for a law, with the likes of Javed Mianded and Aaqib Javed previously calling for it to be criminalised legally.

Pakistan has had a few cases of corruption in the sport. The most famous case over the last decade, when all of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were found guilty of spot-fixing in 2011, shook the team to the core, and Abbas said it was as damaging to the sport as the militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore was in 2009.

“If the militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus dealt a big blow to Pakistan cricket as we were forced to play away from home, these corruption scandals have not been less damaging to our cricket over the years,” Abbas was quoted as saying by PTI.

The PCB has come in for particular criticism for their soft handling of spot-fixing players. Last month, Mohammad Hafeez, the former Pakistan captain, tweeted his disapproval of the PCB allowing for the premature return of Sharjeel Khan, who had been banned for five years for his part in the PSL corruption scandal in 2017.

Sharjeel had that ban overturned in August 2019 after submitting an apology, but that led to calls for PCB to be stricter when it comes to deal with players who have succumbed to corruption.

“It [criminalising fixing] is the right thing to do for the Pakistan board,” Abbas said. “Because for too long, we have been soft while dealing with corruption cases, and these have led to a string of scandals which badly damaged our image and also hurt our cricket’s progress.

“In the end, it is Pakistan cricket which suffered as we lost good players and more importantly we sent out the wrong message to cricketers and even those who try to lure, entice and corrupt players.”

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