Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Future Is Safe

The tainted trio
Sunday afternoons for me are a snooze feast, I spend most of them dozing away in front of the idiot box except for when Asia United have a match to play.  Though the Sunday in question here is the 29th August 2010, and since Bangkok Cricket League season 2011 was still a couple months away, I was busy with my favorite pass time visiting dream factory on my bed.
It was also the 3rd day of the now infamous Lord’s Test between England and Pakistan. England had pilled up runs, 444 of them and with Pakistan bundled out for 74 in the first innings, and an innings defeat was imminent.  Watching cricket on Tele therefore was out of the question so once again brings me back to my dreamy afternoon snooze. I must have been just about to blast a short ball for a six to get to my first even half century for Asia United when an SMS sent my IPhone 4’s Ferrari engine ringtone roaring.
The SMS was from my dear friend Ahsan Awan. With Ahsan being a bigger Cricket Fanatic than me, I tend to rely on news and updates on PCT from him, as he is very resourceful when It comes to anything cricket.  I remember his SMS vaguely as I had just woken up and after reading the news of no balls, I for once thought I was still dreaming and ill soon be up in to see a revival in batting fortunes by PCT batsman. I kept reading and though I have never been a big fan of Salman Butt, I was in a state of shock over the involvement of the young speedster and like I said was waiting for someone to pinch me out of this nightmare.
I tried to make some sense of what I was reading about the players, the agent and the ultimate betrayal as it was being termed. I tried so hard to doubt the video (maybe it was doctored, maybe the Mazhar Majeed was or is party to a setup). Questions kept arising to all those questions; I could find none to answer them for me. Why and how did this happen? Where is PCB in all this? Why was the manager so clueless about everything that had been brewing under his nose? How can an 18 year old favor Money over a career, which had been promising to be extraordinary? Asif again? Two Tests into a captaincy and promises of future being safe, could Salman Butt pull something off like that, he looks so harmless? 
No matter how much of an eternal optimist you might be, your mind can never really deny the comprehension of your eyes. The proof was clearly there, it was in your face. They had been caught red handed. The sting operation was so comprehensively executed that the players and their agent had no clue as to what sort of shrewd but necessary entrapment they were falling into.
Some have said that the players were framed into delivering the spot balls, but then can someone please explain to me as to why were they even party to such an arrangement knowing fully how this could affect their careers?  And I am not even going to talk about the country as the representation for which was long forgotten by these players in question.
For me what frustrated me to the point where I stopped giving them any benefit of the doubt was the look on Salman Butt’s face at the press conference, which was held after the conclusion of the lord’s test match. Why did he not have any answer to the media scrutiny? Why was he so damn confused? Did he see the walls closing in on him? Guilt is not a word I would use for him, as we have seen over the course of this emotional rollercoaster for all PCT fans that he has not once come out and said anything in his defense, or to assure his countrymen of his innocence.
Over the course of six months or so since the NOTW blew the case wide open on what had been happening for sometime, these three have not only lost so much credibility but also the trust of each other and their countrymen. The ultimate betrayal surely it was. For a country raged with War on Terror, little insecurity from its government, cricket was seen as the shining beacon of hope and a game that albeit for a few hours made us one, freed us of our troubles.
For those few hours we were all praying, enjoying, sitting on the edges of our seats, rejoicing in victories and disappointed in losses. At least during those simpler times we could just get back to our lives knowing out team did their best, or it wasn’t their day. But now every loss in the aftermath of this spot-fixing saga is being labeled as dubious. It’s a stigma that might stay with the fans of PCT for quiet sometime.
Many of us kept ourselves from judging these players as guilty unless proven, and now that they are all proven to be anything but innocent, we can all just now move on and rejoice the fact that this did happen. Because, if the leadership which promised us a secure future, stabbed us in the back and took away one of our most promising prospect in the span of weeks, just imagine how bright the future would have been a few years later.  A team controlled by money would have been a bigger disgrace to Pakistan than just 3 corrupt players. 
The career of Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are all but over, and as for Amir it is very bleak. It is their loss after all, Pakistan has never been short of talent, and already there is no sense of void owing to their absence from the team. Ahmed Shahzad might not have gotten a chance to play had we been relying to Salman Butt right now, Wahab Riaz is no Mohammad Asif and Razzaq is not Aamir either but the team has delivered us series victories in New Zealand recently but ironically I shall conclude with the words of wisdom from the biggest idiot we have had leading our team, the future of Pakistan Cricket Team without the three players is bright. The Future is safe.
Written by Nadeem Shehzad

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