One has to give Mohammad Ashraful some credit for coming out in the open, but it does not absolve him © Getty Images
Becoming a professional cricketer is no easy task. It requires great hard-work and sacrifice to get to that level. It is bizarre how men like Mohammad Ashraful throw it all away in that one moment of indiscretion. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the whole scenario.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 spot-fixing controversy has sparked an avalanche of surprises. It all started with the arrest of the Indian Test player Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and two other cricketers. Then Vindoo Dara Singh, a Bollywood actor, was nabbed for his alleged involvement in betting and that led the police to Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of BCCI President N Srinivasan. But, who would have foreseen some collateral damage across the border in Bangladesh? As the authorities tighten the screws to protect the integrity of the gentleman’s game, Mohammad Ashraful made an honest confession of his guilt in fixing a game during this year’s Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Ashraful has been one of the most enigmatic players in world cricket. His talent was obvious since the day he became the youngest Test centurion in 2001, but the maturity was missing. Bangladesh had this one man whom they looked up to. He failed time and again — shining only in the odd games and showing great promise for a bright future. However, earlier this year, contrary to his nature, he scored a patient Test century to suggest that he was ready to change. All those hopes have now been dashed. One can’t help but feel sorry for the Bangladeshi cricket enthusiast.
Unlike the accused in India, Ashraful hasn’t been apprehended by police. At the outset, his admission suggests that he is remorseful and feels he has cheated the cricket loving public at large. However, will his confession be accepted? If we go by history, he would be forgiven after an interval of time. Numerous tainted cricketers (in the sub-continent) in the past have returned to public life and survived the scandals. Some of them have even become experts on television shows. People in the sub-continent are forgiving by nature. Irrespective of what happens, Ashraful may get there quicker that some of the others as he went public with it.
This brings us to the question: How do established stars fall prey to such baits? It takes years of hard-work, dedication and perseverance to get to the highest level. How does a person give it all away? It is that one moment of indiscretion — where he is blinded by the temptation on offer. At that critical juncture, he forgets the sacrifices made by him and his family to get to where he is. He loses sight of a possible bright future and ignores the consequences. So, is it all impulsive? Not quite.
Since the scandal broke out a few weeks ago, many suggested that the players need to be “educated” about such unfair practices. But, aren’t we missing an important detail? The players are adults and should know the difference between right and wrong. It is something one learns from the formative years and isn’t something that can be taught in adulthood. If they cannot differentiate between the two sides, then something is amiss in their nature. Even if there are temptations, they should have the righteousness and the loyalty to their fans to reject them.
Nevertheless, the players need to be told how to tackle such situations. They should be made aware of the channels available to them to report such approaches. More importantly, they should be given an assurance that they would be protected from threats and unwanted elements. That is what they should be “educated” about.
As for Ashraful, one has to give him some credit to come out in the open, but it does not absolve him. He has been suspended as of now and one doesn’t know how long he would be kept out. In the worst case scenario, he may be banned for life and cricket would lose a genuinely talented batsman when it looked like he was going to mend his ways with the bat. But, he would have only himself to blame.
The pristine game is losing its credibility and these are the dark ages. In this time of crisis, even the most genuine gaffe on the field of play would invoke suspicion. As one of the famous commentators pointed out, that is perhaps the biggest tragedy to emerge out of all this. The innocent would invariably come under the microscope and it is because of men like Ashraful — who at one time commanded respect and was loved by his fans.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)