How quickly goldfish forget

The average memory span of a goldfish is seven seconds, which is why it can swim around a small bowl all day and not get bored.

The average span of an international cricketer’s memory is approximately four years, just long enough to remember the last tour of Pakistan/Australia/India and to remember the lessons they learned there last time. Most of them, anyway.

The average span of an international cricket administrator’s memory is approximately three years, however.

At least, it is for the really senior, important men in charge of the global game.

We know this because it was just three years ago that Sir Paul Condon’s ICC-appointed Anti Corruption Unit pinpointed the most important measure that needed to be taken in the fight against match-fixing and illegal betting that had just ended the careers of Mohammad Azharuddin, Salim Malik and Hansie Cronje, amongst others.

That measure was to reduce, if not eradicate altogether the staging of ‘meaningless’ tournaments and the playing of meaningless matches.

In other words, triangular tournaments in Dubai, Singapore and Morocco – and the playing of ‘dead’ matches between two ‘legitimate’ teams in a legitimate triangular series in which both have already qualified for the final.

The Anti Corruption Unit investigators were roundly (and, perhaps, rightly) criticised for making a grand total of no arrests, let alone convictions.

None. Zero.

But they did talk to a great many people, including bookmakers and certain players, under the assurance of anonymity.

And they all said it was easier to ‘poison’ players with bribes when they didn’t care much about the contest – and much easier to take a bribe, lose your wicket or bowl badly when the game was no more than an exercise in entertainment.

So the majority has since suffered for the sake of the corrupt minority and we no longer have the pleasurable diversion of a 10 days in Singapore or Tangier as reward for the repetitive strain of the ICC’s 10-year Test cycle.

These ‘meaningless’ tournaments have disappeared from the cricketing radar which is a great sadness for the players who genuinely like to see the world rather than the world’s airports and cricket grounds.

But, if that was the price to pay for the control of corruption, then so be it.


Now, however, not only has the ICC seen fit to condone the playing of an African XI against an Asian XI, but they have conferred official one-day international status on the games.

Much has been written already about how the series was conceived entirely for television and, more pertinently, for the Asian television market and how the major beneficiary will be the multi-millionaire former boss of the BCCI, Jagmohan Dalmiya.

But nobody, apparently, has yet written about the millions of dollars, dirhams and rupees that will be generated – mostly illegally – by the three matches to be played next week in Centurion and Durban. A happy coincidence for the Asian bookmaking giants?

Or has the series, in fact, been bankrolled by the bookmakers’ millions? SuperSport have paid lots of money to televise the series, to be sure, but it’s not enough to cover production costs, players’ fees, prize money and other assorted staging costs.

Not enough by a long way.

I hope I’m wrong.

And I hope the man who contacted me from India last week is wrong, a man who has worked (and still does but won’t admit it) on both sides of the gambling fence.

But if he is right, then the ICC has given its unqualified blessing to a series that has no legitimate cricket context and may be the brainchild of the same criminals who left a lifelong scar on the game just five years ago.


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