But how on earth could I possibly ignore what has now happened? It has shaken most of Pakistan, and perhaps the entire cricketing world, to its core.
(Just in case, highly unlikely, that you are reading this from a different planet, here is what happened. And here. And here. And here. I don't have the stomach to repeat it.)
Mazhar Majeed: Mr Fix-it-All (source: NOTW)
But what can one really say any more that has not already been said? Two of the most comprehensive and well-written Pakistani responses by Five Rupees and Dawn blogger Farooq Nomani have probably said it all. Nomani's piece's title actually says it all: "How Low?" Seriously, the only response I really want to make, is the response I made when I first became aware of the story as it broke: Fuck them, fuck them all. Apologies for the crudeness, but there is simply no other way to convey the feeling one has having once again placed one's hopes and faith in someone, after having been burnt and let down before, only to again see the futility of it all. This was supposed to be the side that one was supporting through its dark times because it was in the process of rebuilding with young blood!
Green with Greed: (L-R) Asif, Butt, Amir, Akmal (source: NOTW)
I mean, if the worst flood devastation in our history were not bad enough, if millions of people without shelter and food and clothing were not bad enough, if the prospect of the country going economically under were not bad enough, if the barbaric mob violence and apathy in Sialkot were not bad enough, if the continued brutal 'target killing' of poor labourers and political activists in Karachi were not bad enough, if the continuing alienation of the Baloch were not bad enough, if the Taliban atrocities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the global war being fought in the Tribal Areas were not bad enough, if the terrorist attacks all over Pakistan were not bad enough, if the abuse and massacre of our religious minorities were not bad enough, if the apathy of our elite and establishment were not bad enough, we have to contend with this petty and shameless greed rubbed in our face as well?
Can we get a fucking break?
Incidentally, for those who are spinning this as a concocted ploy by the English press always out to 'get us' or holding out hope that there is no conclusive legal proof to convict 'our boys', I have just one thing to say to you: get your heads out of your asses. People in the know and even sports journalists were talking about Kamran Akmal and others being on the take for quite a while now - hell, during the Edgbaston Test one former cricketer even made similarly correct predictions about upcoming overs as detailed in the sting operation by The News of the World now, based, he said, on 'rumours' he had heard - the only difference was nobody had this kind of proof. And nobody was willing to bell the cat.
You know the old saying about chickens coming home to roost? That's what has happened to us. In every single awful thing that has happened to Pakistan recently that I have mentioned above. In this particular case, as Five Rupees puts it:
"I would argue that one of the main reasons we find ourselves in this mess is that we didn’t take care of business when we should have, in the mid and late 1990s. Everybody else did. The Saffies banned Cronje, and took stern action against everyone else (Herschelle Gibbs was banned temporarily for the mere fact of not disclosing that his captain had asked him to partake). The Aussies punished Shane Warne and Mark Waugh for disclosing weather information. The Indians banned Azharuddin and Jadeja. What did we do? We swept everything under the carpet. Only Salim Malik was banned, and really, his career was over anyway. Everyone else involved, including guys like Wasim Akram, were given light punishments, mere slaps on the wrist, despite overwhelming evidence against them (Ata-ur-Rehman wrote a sworn affidavit in which he alleged that Wasim asked him to bowl badly). Why did we do this? Simple, because we were afraid of what it would do to our cricket team. Rightfully so, I might add, since everyone from Wasim to Waqar to Inzi to Mushie was involved, in some way. But we took the shortcut then, and are paying for it now, because by not punishing it, we encouraged it."
Catch Them Young: Fixer Majeed hands over jacket with cash to Wahab Riaz, left, while Umar Amin looks on (source: NOTW)
There are bound to be questions raised about how the team selection may also have been manipulated to ensure the 'right kinds' of people in the team. Why for example had the Pakistan team become mainly a Central Punjab XI, why were certain undeserving players like Wahab Riaz (also implicated in this scandal) brought into the team above more deserving bowlers, why Afridi actually walked out of the captaincy (according to the alleged fixer Majeed, most of the players "wanted to f*** up Afridi because he's trying to f*** up things for them"), why there was such a haste to send the new wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider home (a report today in Jang claims that not only was he not given the customary 'test cap' he was handed a ticket back as soon as he came out of the clinic even though he had he had been hopeful he would be all right in a few days), why perennial keeper-in-reserve Sarfaraz Ahmed was not called up even if Haider had to be sent home, and why certain players like Fawad Alam continued to be kept out of the playing eleven.
But let's not kid ourselves that the current sorry lot at the PCB would ever be willing to tackle these questions or take the drastic structural actions required. They are part of the problem, not the solution. And no change can come about unless you recognize how deep the rot runs.
The worst part is not even that all of this shit is happening to Pakistan. The worst part is we steadfastly refuse to learn from our own history.