Photo by Sarah Ansell
As in ‘returned’. What else would the word ‘back’ mean in that context? It’s not like there’s an ambiguous apostrophe-S in there or anything.
Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif both played for Water and Power Development Authority against Federally Administered Tribal Areas in one of those somehat fictional sounding domestic fixtures in which Pakistan specialises. Butt made a ton.
Back when Asif, Butt and Mohammad Amir were banned, we wrote that a reformed cricketer would acknowledge wrongdoing and accept a fitting punishment that would serve the greater good of the sport. Whether you believe him or not, this is pretty much what Amir did. The other two, less so.
Butt spent most of his ban denying that he did anything, while Asif is just a dick and therefore saw no real need to apologise or seek redemption. As far as we can tell, he simply doesn’t care. He probably passed his time away from the sport shoplifting from charity shops and throwing his plunder into the river in a bid to clog it up.
Despite the protestations of some of his team-mates, Amir is now returning to the Pakistan side. The selectors said they went purely on ability in making their decision. By that rationale, it surely can’t be long before his one-time new ball partner also makes a return. Amir was good, but he was hit and miss. Asif, as unpalatable as it may be, was always better.
We’ve already made it clear that we would never accept money to underperform, but if we were that sort of person, the court case involving Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif would make us think again.
At the time of writing, Butt has been found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments. Mohammad Asif has been found guilty of conspiracy to cheat and the jury are still considering the second charge.
Butt could, in theory, get seven years in prison. You would think that might actually prove a deterrent to at least some of the spot-fixers out there.
The players involved in spot-fixing seem to move in a world where it’s not considered that big a deal. Well, seven years in prison says otherwise in a loud, clear, insistent and slightly hectoring voice.
The idea that the sport’s governing body might (but probably wouldn’t) catch you and ban you for a year is one thing, but this is something else. This is real-life punishment. Shame it took a newspaper of questionable morals and the British legal system to make an example of someone.
Those following the court case involving Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif will have seen a lot of eye-catching headlines. The agent at the centre of all this is Mazhar Majeed. He is, frankly, a bit of a knobhead.
The thing is, most of the headlines derive from things Majeed said when he was boasting to undercover News of the World reporters. When he said that Wasim and Waqar took payments to fix events in cricket matches, he wasn’t saying he was directly involved, he was just saying ‘this kind of thing happens’ and then he lists some famous names to make it sound more normal. The reference to Australians is another attempt to make the practice sound more common that it probably was.
Maybe there is something in it. Maybe Ricky Ponting regularly bats out maidens and pockets some cash for his troubles. Maybe Wasim and Waqar deliberately underperformed in every match they played (ponder that for a moment). The thing is, thus far the evidence amounts to the idle words of a knobhead and we’re not going to get too worked up until there’s something more than that.
People are idiots. That’s a rule that pretty much always stands up to scrutiny. Put people in a position where there’s a choice to make and they will naturally veer towards the stupid option by default.
Even so, some options are sufficiently stupid that most of us don’t take them. With a huge, heavy Le Creuset pan full of curry in the oven, you can either take it out with your bare hands or you can put on the oven gloves. Most people will go for the oven gloves.
The remaining people can be split into two further subcategories. There are people who scald their hands and think “Christ, I’m never doing that again” and then there are a very small number of people who try and return the pan to the oven bare-handed after stirring the contents.
The latter are the people who can’t be helped. Simply sit them down in front of ITV1 and just pray that they don’t ever attempt to do anything again in the whole of the rest of their lives. We’re pretty sure that Mohammad Asif fits into this category. If he lost a finger in a Philips blender, he would probably still need to be told to keep his hand out of an active Kenwood blender.
Mohammad Amir, on the other hand, is hopefully the kind of man who only needs to sear his fingertips the once and he deserves a chance to prove it. A five year ban is a long time out of the game, but you can’t appreciate the significance of a second chance without knowing there were consequences when you stuffed up the first time.
And Salman Butt?
We’re not sure where we stand on him. Older than Amir, but not that old, criticism of him seems to revolve around the fact that he should have known better because he’s ‘smart’ or something. Well clearly he isn’t that smart because he’s just been banned from cricket for a decade. Middle-class people who speak good English can be pretty damn thick as well and maybe they too should be allowed the opportunity to take or spurn a second chance.
If Amir or Butt are ever to take a second chance, they could start by acknowledging one thing – that those bans are not merely punishment for themselves; more importantly, they are a deterrent to others. A reformed cricketer would acknowledge wrongdoing and accept a fitting punishment that would serve the greater good of the sport.
Is there any chance of that?
Pretty sure propaganda has to be clearly labelled as such in order for it to be properly effective.
In the comments on our last post, Ceci suggested that the Pakistani batsmen believe what they read. With that in mind, we’d like to put this site forward as official Pakistani cricket team reading matter. Wrong language and all that, but never mind.
At one point in yesterday’s play, Salman Butt brought his bat inside the line of a James Anderson outswinger. Some experts were moved to comment that it was the finest leave they’d seen since Sunil Gavaskar against Garry Sobers in the fifth over of the first innings at Port of Spain in 1971.
This Pakistani batting can be quite exceptional at times.
Poor Salman Butt. That’s all we can think about.
He’s trying to organise a nice tea party, even though the crockery’s jagged and serrated and keeps cutting people’s hands. The teapot’s got a hole in it and it’s dribbling boiling water over everyone.
Yet Butt’s holding it all together. He’s making do, even though every time he offers someone sugar, it’s fraught with danger. There’s blood everywhere, but no-one’s died. It’s fragile, but they’re getting by.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone drops a live grenade onto the table and tells him to use it as a saucer.
We dread to think what search engine traffic we’re going to get from that title, but you can’t sashay through life being called ‘Butt’ without some sort of consequences. It’ll teach some visitors the importance of the humble comma at any rate.
Prior to the first one-day international against Sri Lanka, Shoaib Malik said that he believed Pakistan played Ajantha Mendis better than any other side. Being as Mendis had taken seven wickets in the 14 overs he’d bowled at Pakistan, it was tempting to think that Shoaib had confused Ajantha Mendis with Mike Yardy.
However, Salman Butt then hit an unbeaten hundred and Mendis went wicketless, so we’ll give the Pakistan captain the benefit of the doubt. Khurram Manzoor hit 83, so that’s another young Pakistani opening batsman to add to the list.
Considering they rarely play, Pakistan manage to blood a hell of a lot of openers.