It’s all very sad. Watching revelation after revelation surrounding the alleged match and spot fixing by players in the Pakistan cricket team, has brought our wonderful game into disrepute. My initial reaction, when the story broke in the News of The World, was of sympathy for Jonathan Trott and Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad.
During the fourth Test Match at Lord’s, the pair batted out of their skins in a record breaking stand of 332 for the eighth wicket, ironically beating the partnership of 313 by Pakistan’s Wasim Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq versus Zimbabwe at Sheikhupura in October 1996.
Broad’s innings of 169 was the second highest score by a number 9 batsman in Test cricket (the highest being by Kiwi Ian Smith who made 173 for New Zealand against India at Auckland in 1990).
"Unfortunately this magnificent stand, which turned an enthralling Test on its head, will forever have its integrity questioned."
Unfortunately this magnificent stand, which turned an enthralling Test on its head, will forever have its integrity questioned thanks to revelations of spot fixing (when gamblers stake money on the minutiae of sporting encounters, in this case when no-balls would be delivered).
The fact that there was the odd no-ball - deliberate or not - represented a tiny element in the big picture of a game during which 1,255 deliveries were sent down, and in all reality did not affect the outcome one iota. This simply served to make the story all the more galling.
The natural reaction from the cricket world is now to look back on recent results and question their integrity – rather than look forward to forthcoming fixtures involving the Pakistan team.
This is particularly sad as cricket needs Pakistan to have a side competing against the best on the planet. Our wonderful game provides one of the most obvious crossovers between the Western World and this troubled country.
Language barriers and cultural differences all disappear when Mohammad Yousuf cracks a glorious cover drive or young Wahab Riaz sends down a searing delivery that fizzes through Kevin Pietersen’s defences. People around the world can relate to the incredible talent on display from this enigmatic side and heroes and role models are born.
Without cricket, I genuinely fear that the divide between our cultures will become increasingly difficult to bridge.
For now, I think we all feel cheated, especially Broad and Trott. Whether or not the allegations are proven, the investigations into any elements of fixing – be they match or spot – will grow exponentially until the governing bodies, police and crucially, the media are satisfied that the scorecard tells the whole story of a cricket match.
As fans, we want whole-hearted performances, where the best players win. Watching the Notts Outlaws live on Sky Sports at the weekend, it was obvious that in this instance, Warwickshire were by far the better side. But it wasn’t for the want of trying.
Take Luke Fletcher for example, who will hold his hand up and admit he wasn’t good enough on the day – but boy did he give it his all, illustrated by his torso dripping with sweat and his face contorted with frustration at not being able to contain the rampant ‘Bears’. That’s the sort of cricket and cricketer, fans all over the world can invest their faith in. Pakistan take note.