With the advent of T20 and the enormous amounts of money associated with it, Cricket has suffered due to the underhand way some people inside the game have exploited their position for instant monetary gain. Some have probably got away with it, and some (as we all know) have not.
The question now is: Should we be concerned about the future of our beloved game and the direction it is going?
Of course the introduction of big money into cricket has long been overdue, and is certainly welcome, but where there is money, there is usually someone to exploit it and corrupt something that has so long gained the reputation of a gentlemen’s game played by fair and honest individuals.
Of course those fair and honest individuals are still there and are still running and playing the game. However, I am talking about the tiny percentage of people who have decided to move the odds in their favour by tempting players to bowl no balls, give away runs, or in some of the worst cases even throw matches.
In some instances a player (usually under the influence of an outside agent or bookmaker) may only throw away a boundary or bowl a no-ball at a certain time during the game. Some people say “so what? Surely a few runs or a no-ball will not affect the outcome of a game.” No, it may not, but that is not the point. What these people are doing is cheating, simple as that. There are no parameters on cheating i.e you cannot cheat a little. You are either cheating or not, nothing in between.
I have also heard arguments that say “well, it is only the bookies we are cheating anyway.” Wrong, we are cheating the game. Who knows how deep this problem runs within our precious game, it may only be skin deep, but because it has happened, it makes us all suspicious all of the time, which in turn can ruin our enjoyment of the game or worse, can switch us off to cricket altogether.
I know cheating or betting scandals happen in almost every sport, but that does not make it right. For instance, I love watching cycling, but who can watch the tour-de-france for instance without thinking that some competitors may be taking drugs. Similarly with athletics, I love athletics, but there is always that doubt, because it has been tarnished by a tiny minority, but has affected the majority.
Of course there are famous cases in cricket that have been all over the news, which I am not going to go into, but this is what we know, because they have been caught on camera with absolutely no excuses. If there was a way to argue this particular case, believe me they would have done that, but there wasn’t. How many other cases are there that we do not know about? In truth, no one really knows, but the great danger is “there is no smoke without fire” i.e all of us now will become suspicious of anything out of the ordinary.
I feel this is all a little sad. The great games of the past, which we all enjoyed and the outstanding performances that we all appreciate may in the future be questioned. Feats of individual brilliance may not be looked at with such admiration as they once were. I know this is a very negative view, but it is human nature. Similarly with athletics, if someone breaks a world record, would we say to ourselves “I wonder if he/she has taken steroids.” If we glimpse a brilliant ride in next years tour-de-france, would we ask the same question. Win Draw Win
In truth, these cheats may have done something insignificant in their eyes within a game, for instance giving away an odd run. They may have been paid handsomely for this small indiscretion, and so think there has been no harm done. But they are well and truly WRONG, as this (as has been proven) has done immeasurable damage to a game that has been revered and respected throughout the world as the fairest of games played by perfect gentlemen.
In response to the question I asked at the start, I personally feel we are on a slippery slope, and unless something is done within the game it will only have a negative effect. On a positive note, the money invested into the game has certainly promoted cricket to a whole new audience, including children and female viewers. Who knows, it might even become popular in the USA. Although I am not going to hold my breath.