Why the corrupt haunt Pakistan cricket
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When Pakistan's leg-spinner Danish Kaneria was banned for life for fixing, many were baffled as
to why Pakistanis were so talented at cricket yet so susceptible to the lure of corruption.
It was another jolt with the country still reeling from the devastating 2010 spot-fixing scandal at Lords, which ended in lengthy bans and jail terms for then Test captain Salman Butt, and pacemen Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.
Corruption is rife in Pakistan. Businessmen consider it a necessary evil and last month the prime minister lost his job after being convicted of contempt for refusing to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. In a country with an ineffective government, disastrous power cuts, Taliban violence, Al-Qaeda strongholds and an economy at risk of defaulting, cricket is the most popular if not the only form of entertainment.
"Corruption cases against our politicians are common, but the corruption of 19-year-old Aamir was hard to swallow," said
Tauseef Khan, head of mass communication at the Federal Urdu University in Karachi.
"It reflects the lack of role models and unabated corruption in our society."
For those talented enough, cricket offers an escape from the hardship of low-income and poverty-stricken homes such as those where Aamir grew up just outside the capital Islamabad.
The commercialisation of the game in the late 1970s enabled cricketers to earn tens of thousands of dollars a year, but also gave rise to corruption.
"The majority of cricketers in Pakistan come from poor families and when they see so much money floating around, sadly temptation gets the better of them," said former captain
Many also blame the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for being unable to stop the rot after life bans on Salim Malik and Ata ur Rehman, and fines for Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Inzamam-ul Haq, Saeed Anwar and Mushtaq Ahmed in 2000. Commentator and former captain Ramiz Raja, who played with all these stars, blamed the lack of structure.