By Rajesh Ramaswamy
Breaking news from the ICC tribunal in Doha is that the Pakistan cricketers could have done some 'sentence fixing' if they had uttered those magical three words: "I am sorry!"
Going by an article in Cricinfo, the judging team was incensed that the players, especially Mohammad Aamer, refused to follow the captain's instructions this time to look duly remorseful. According to the ICC press release, if he had managed that look and made the right (read, contrite) sounds, he could have been rewarded with less time off from the game.
I'd have laughed my guts out, but it's a tad difficult to do that whilst tearing out your hair and screaming at the same time.
How on earth can you expect remorse from Aamer? How ridiculous is that? Am I saying this because I believe him to be a hardened villain cocking-a-snook at the laws and ethics of the fair game? Far from it, I believe he's a young man led astray, and 'm not even too sure it was for money. If I was an 18-year-old rookie, and my captain ordered me to bowl a couple of no-balls as part of a 'strategy', I would unquestioningly do that.
I remember doing that at University matches to rattle someone with a bouncer from 19 yards - extra run be damned - for the sheer unsettling effect it had over the next few balls. Now I'm not suggesting he's entirely innocent because I don't know all the facts, but coming back to this news, if I was innocent of malicious intent, or maintained innocence, how can I show 'remorse' when that would be tantamount to admitting guilt?
I just wish there was a more balanced view about this whole episode, especially the role played by Aamer. I'm not asking for lenience because of age, for an 18- year-old murderer is still a murderer, and his relative lack of years and experience is no solace to the corpse. In this case, the most I can say against him is that he was guilty of following orders. From someone he looked up to and was bound to listen to, and like any foot soldier, he obeyed his General's orders, irrespective of what he thought of them.
Now, we move onto more fertile territory, and the role suspected to have been played by the leader. If the ICC was convinced the captain was rotten, and had admissible evidence, they should have banned Salman Butt for life for corrupting a game and destroying a young player's life and faith in the order of things.
And in this case, I'd like to think that all the captain's 'remorses' and all the captain's 'apologies' should not suffice in putting HumBUTTy DumBUTTy together on a field again!
(Rajesh is a former fast bowler who believes he could have been the answer to India's long prayer for an 'express' paceman. He regularly clocked speeds hovering in the late 80's and occasionally let fly deliveries that touched the 90's. Unfortunately for him, the selectors were talking 'mph', while he was operating in the metric lane with 'kmph'. But he moved on from that massive disappointment which resulted from what he termed a 'miscommunication', and became a communications professional. After a long innings in advertising as a Creative Director, he co-founded a brand consulting firm called Contrabrand. He lives in Chennai and drives down to work in Bangalore...an arrangement that he finds less time consuming and stressful than getting from one end of Bangalore to the other)