Does cricket as a sport really frown upon cheating?

Mohammad Amir

Does cricket as a sport really frown upon cheating? More pertinently, do those charged with governing it take appropriate action to dissuade others from walking down the same path? We’d like to believe that.

Match-fixing is as good a place to start as any, although it is worth noting that the crooks have got with the times. We live in an instant world; rather than spend time and energy, which they no doubt require for nobler pursuits, on influencing the outcome of an entire match, they have resorted to influencing arbitrary passages of play or single deliveries.

However, I put it to you that match-fixing isn’t cheating at all. Is it dastardly? No doubt. Does it do to this game what a slice of chocolate cake would do to a white shirt? Oh, yes. But when you get right down to brass tacks, is it really cheating?

Cheating has an underlying connotation of helping the perpetrator obtain an unfair advantage. Menace though it is, fixing actually means the player underperforms. A bowler cannot guarantee that he will get a wicket on the third ball of the 15th over, but he can guarantee that he will bowl a no-ball. Similarly, the lower the number of runs to be scored in a period of play, the higher the guarantee the batsman can give that that will indeed be the case.

You cannot guarantee that you will win a game, but you can guarantee that you will lose. For people who are just begging to be substituted for the moles in ‘whack-a-mole’, they sure care about these guarantees. Underperforming is not cheating. It is shameless and spineless, but it isn’t cheating.

If fixing for all its sins isn’t cheating, what is?

Doping. Doping is bad. Just ask all those people mad at Lance Armstrong. How he must wish he had pursued a career in cricket, instead. Shane Warne is one of the greatest cricketers to have ever lived. He is also one of the most celebrated. Was he a genius the likes of which we may never see again? Indubitably. Did he play the game in the proper spirit? Undoubtedly. He was also banned for a year for testing positive for a banned substance.

Before he was making wild accusations and delusional claims, one Shoaib Akhtar was chucking bowling fast, doping and making wild accusations and delusional claims. Along with Mohammad Asif who would subsequently move on to bigger and better transgressions in the form of match-fixing, he was banned and returned to resume his international career.

Whether or not they actually got any unfair advantage, whether or not Shane Warne really did take that pill to lose weight, the fact remains that they did in fact break the rules and, by extension, cheat. Can those governing the game really say that they took steps that would stop the next cricketer from doing the very same thing?

Moving on.

Claiming a dropped catch definitely falls within the realms of cheating. We’re told that cheating is bad and that the people governing the game won’t stand for it. Quite right. Denesh Ramdin claimed a dropped catch a year or so back. He was given a time out and made to stand in the corner while his friends played and made him a Test Captain a year later for good measure. That’ll show em.

Cricket has taken a similar stance against ball-tampering. The match referees huff and puff, but they hand out harsher punishments for slow over-rates. I’m so glad that they have got their priorities right.

The fact of the matter is that cricket is willing to let the little things slide. They’re not little things as far as other sports are concerned, but what do they know? The census pool is clearly tainted because more than 10 countries actually play those sports at an elite international level.

We’re willing to forgive those who cross the line, and occasionally bend, fracture or bulldoze the rules in their pursuit to win. We’re willing to overlook these transgressions because one could argue that all they’re really guilty of is wanting to win too badly.

Underperformers are cast out, excommunicated and treated as pariahs. That’s why one Mohammad Amir may well be playing for Pakistan next year.

They’re right you know. Cricket is unlike any other sport.

Just ask the people governing it.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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