Oh for a leader

Ooh my word, isn’t there some tough talking going on! Lots of big men talking loudly, posturing aggressively and threatening to flex their muscles. Finally, thanks to the biggest Sunday tabloid newspaper in the world, cricket’s leaders have got someone they can throw the law book at. Life bans – and why not throw Pakistan out of the world game for good measure! Let’s get tough!

And once we’ve done that, we can trawl the streets of inner cities throughout the cricket playing world, gather up the drunken teenagers and glue-sniffing, pick-pocketing youth and throw them all behind bars and throw away the keys. That’ll show ‘em! Let’s really take care of the problem. Never mind the suppliers.

Mohammed Asif, by all accounts, if he was still at school, would be described as a child with ‘learning difficulties.’ He is a wonderful bowler but was persuaded by Shoaib Akhtar a couple of years ago to pop a few anabolic steroids and then, having escaped a serious ban on the basis that he was, in fact, a village idiot, was held in Dubai having attempted to pass through immigration and customs carrying a recreational narcotic. Goodness knows what he might have told Mohammed Amir about bowling a no-ball at an agreed point in the game. In Asia, you defer to your elders and do as you’re told – whether they happen to idiots or not.

But talking about Pakistan is a digression. Yes, they have been wandering the earth playing cricket with no home for two years making them extra vulnerable to gambling predators. Yes, they are paid peanuts by administrators you wouldn’t want to flatter with the term monkeys. So it’s all about Pakistan then, is it? Get rid of them and solve the problem?

Players from all of the cricket playing countries have accepted “money for nothing” in recent years. The IPL’s status as a circus may now be official but many of the players regarded it as such from the beginning and didn’t bother questioning what they were required to give back in return for lavish gifts and extra-contractual cash. If they were told to take the field wearing red noses and orange wigs they would – and no doubt somebody would be betting on it.

Where are all the good, fair and well balanced administrators?

In England, Giles Clarke lives with the embarrassing memory of his open-armed, unresearched welcoming of American crook Allen Stanford. The West Indies Board are so busy looking after themselves that the players are about to embark on their sixth – or seventh? – case of arbitration with them. (The players have ‘won’ them all but it doesn’t stop the administrators from treating them like ‘junior staff’.) India’s BCCI is comprised largely of self-serving millionaires whose sole objective is to get richer and, in South Africa, the administrators are being ‘investigated’ by internal auditors for sharing out R4.7 million in unauthorised bonuses, including R1.7 million which the chief executive appears to have handed to himself.

Cricket Australia, meanwhile, have tucked themselves into the BCCI’s underbelly closer than a pilot fish to a shark and Sri Lanka changes administration on an annual basis amidst claims of maladministration and corruption. Zimbabwe’s chief executive and president still have similar claims hanging over their heads.

New Zealand appears to be the only board with an interest in the long-term sustainability of the game – an interest in anything other than how to make a quick buck now and an even quicker buck tomorrow, in fact. Perhaps they should run world cricket for a while?

Once a generation, if we’re lucky, a great leader is born – or rises up above the crowd and shows him or herself to be a visionary with the ability to lead whole nations towards health and safety. Is there someone out there with the passion, desire and strength to knock some heads together and put the sport back on track? Someone who commands enough cross-cultural respect to persuade everyone for a need to have a serious anti-corruption unit, some uniformity of player payment at international level and transparent accountability at administrative level?

No, obviously not.


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