What about Umpire-fixing?

By Michelle Beckett

If the umpire gives a poor decision, it is usually considered to a human error, and the man responsible of upholding equality in a game of cricket is easily set off the hook. Sometimes these so-called human errors increase in frequency and occur at crucial moments that turn the result of important matches.

It is unfair why the referral system has not been introduced in the one-day international matches, and the on-field umpires are given the freedom to solely judge and give decisions.

In the tour of England, innumerable allegations were imposed on Pakistan regarding spot-fixing. Two of Pakistan top fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, under the captaincy of Salman Butt were alleged to have deliberately bowled no-balls in the test match against England at Lords. This news created shock waves around the world of cricket. It has been almost a month since the spot-fixing allegations brought forth by the British tabloid newspaper ‘News of the World’ came to light and not even a single piece of evidence has been found against the Pakistani players till date. Even then, they have been prematurely suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The British media and the ICC have focused a bit too much on the entire spot-fixing issue, but what about the blatant umpire-fixing that seems quite evident on television screens during the one-day matches?

Several poor decisions were given in the last one-day match between Pakistan and England. Most of them went in favour of England. The no-ball bowled by Amir and Asif were blown to crazy proportions by both the ICC and the British media, but what about the so-called no ball given by the umpire during the 5th ODI, which was clearly not a no ball. By giving this decision, the umpire allowed a free hit which could have proved costly for Pakistan, but fortunately for Pakistan, Umar Gul was able to bowl a good delivery which did not give any runs.

Secondly, there was a stumping appeal against Luke Wright but it was dismissed by umpire Billy Doctrove and was not referred to the third umpire despite repeated appeals by Umar Akmal (who had replaced Kamran Akmal as wicket-keeper due to Kamran Akmal’s finger injury). Shahid Afridi argued with Billy Doctrove furiously as he did not understand why the decision was not being referred to the third umpire.

And that’s not all. Captain Andrew Strauss, who was in top form and was the most dangerous player of the English side, was plum LBW (leg before the wicket) but was given not-out. It was the most crucial wicket for Pakistan as Strauss continued to attack Pakistani bowlers despite wickets falling on the other end. Mohammad Hafeez, the bowler, could just not believe it. Even Strauss was sure that he was out as he was heading towards the pavilion. But the umpire, who was British by nationality, closed his eyes and jerked his head. This was yet another shock for Pakistan.

So what would one call this? The two games that Pakistan did win were not dependent on the umpire’s rulings as most of the wickets were taken when the batmen was either bowled or caught.

It really makes one wonder that is the ICC taking a notice of this? Can they not see how the umpires turned a blind eye to Pakistan’s appeals? And what about the blatant no-ball decision given by the umpire when it was clearly not a no-ball? The spot-fixing no-balls were really noticed to the point that the poor players were suspended without proof. What sort of justice is this? The ICC has really proved to be a pure western body so far where most of the problems faced by Asian countries seem to go unnoticed. One cannot help but sense double-standards prevalent in the body which is there to support cricket for all.

Must see:

>>English Umpires Match Fixing Against Pakistan

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Welcome to the Stone Age

Samson Simon Sharaf | Did Richard Armitage make an understatement when he threatened to pulp Pakistan to Stone Age? And in reaction, had Pakistani policy makers averted a conflict through unstinted support and secure ultimate national interests? As I have repeatedly asserted, the public through media is merely exposed to a very small fraction of the reality eclipsed with subtle propaganda. The unknown is of grave concern. Eight years hence, after all that has happened, Pakistan’s security perspectives have only deepened.

The ‘shock and awe’ phase of the invasion of Afghanistan witnessed the worse use of violence for global domination. In deciding the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and now Pakistan (Afpak), the Capitol Hill strategists chose to ignore a basic lesson of the American Civil War in which the North despite a ragtag army defeated the more sophisticated South; any use of violence related to hate and revenge will ultimately fail. ISAF, USA and the Afghan Combine, unlike Pakistan have ceded more and more ground to the Afghan resistance. The third surge seems to be lea-ding nowhere and prospects of an imminent US withdrawal look dimmer by the day. The question arises, then why Afghanistan?

In a conflict not of our choosing, but in many ways of our own making, landmarks crucial to a winning national strategy are elusive. Following military operations, Pakistan holds more ground in troubled areas. However, in a counter insurgency operation, ground is not always the most vital. In a conflict lacking manoeuvres and firepower, the insurgent has the option to melt away and float in the milieu like fish in water. The method, time and target to strike are always flexible, invariably punctuated with surprise. In contrast, the security mechanism remains stretched to limits, predictable and static. Devoid of any noteworthy economic and moral support, for how long will the country be able to sustain an ongoing asymmetrical conflict that is now costing more than all the wars in the past combined?

The effects of the Afghan conflict on Pakistan are damaging on all counts. The malaise is like a squamous with tentacles spread to every sinew of our society. The military to some extent may succeed in dominating the geographical and cyber space, but what of the individuals whose mind cannot be reached and tamed and who have the capacity to proliferate? They inevitably matter in a society fractured by poor economic conditions, sectarianism, crime and population explosion. Seen in the context of the ongoing political controversies, economic recession and fault lines within the society, it will take a very long and herculean efforts to restore normalcy. Given the obtaining environments, conditions are most likely to worsen before we could hope for a turn for the positive. What happens during the interim and how, we as a nation contend is the concern of every Pakistani. Tragically, a national policy to win hearts and minds in general and at the grassroots in particular is conspicuously missing. For how long can we play the flute while Pakistan burns?

Barring military operations daringly led by young officers, all other indicators of a national well being have gradually plummeted. Unplanned urbanisation in mega cities is rapidly morphing into bigger pockets of poverty providing breeding grounds for minimalist agendas. Wheat, sugar, rice, cotton, fertilizer, pesticide, cement and communication cartels are on an unchecked loose. Value added exports are being manipulated to dwindle in face of raw exports, pricing issues, time delays, energy shortages, transportation costs and high interest rates. Agricultural products like cane, cotton, wheat and paddy have virtually suffocated through pricing mechanisms, water shortages and energy inputs. Two years of bumper crops are now hampered by lack of winter monsoons and extremely low water particularly in the river systems. The GDP other than the incidental 1.1 is virtually at a halt. Barring the import bill, Pakistan’s economic downturn does not appear to be affected by the global recession. The question arises that despite positive home grown indicators, why Pakistan’s economy is being allowed to slide into shortages, hyperinflation and dependency?

Just like the insurgents need a cause and outside support to sustain themselves, counties fighting them also need a powerhouse to defeat them. Even the best military plans are doomed to fail in the absence of an all encompassing national strategy. So far the entire might of ISAF and USA with full international support and massive resources has only resulted in ceding more areas to Taliban. In contrast, Pakistan despite economic constraints, manipulative political economy and practically non-existent international assistance/support has cleared area after area. In terms of success ratios to economics, the results have been at a fraction of what ISAF and USA spend in Afghanistan. Yet the unending chants of ‘do more’ grows vociferous and threatening by the day. India has been showered far more praises in this WOT than Pakistan that has done the donkey’s work and remains a donkey.

Gratitude to Pakistan in this disowned conflict usually makes headlines in form of leaks by the American and British media reflecting an uneasiness with Pakistan’s nuclear capability and complicity with terrorism. This propaganda is followed by statements of US and UK officials synchronised with threatening statements and posturing from India and their military establishment. With the Baghliar Dam in operation and numerous ‘run of the river’ power generating units on rivers leading to Pakistan in place, India manipulates water flow at will.

What has the government done to formulate a cohesive national policy?

Rather than venture on an all-encompassing national austerity programme, boost domestic growth particularly in the agrarian sector, facilitate value addition of exports and initiate rehabilitation plans for young men exposed to militancy, the government seems to adopt and pursue policies to the contrary. International financial institutions with their unfriendly conditions are back. Price structuring is grossly manipulative and exports discouraged. At the same time the government is involved in serious political differences with its allies, military establishment and the judiciary. Rather than channelise all efforts into the conflict and nation building, resources are being wasted on issues not of immediate significance. It appears that Pakistan’s policy makers have willingly chosen to recluse the nation to backwardness. President’s recent tirades are unequivocal in that ‘if we go, everything goes with us’. This is indeed a very poor reflection of a country and its leadership at war.

Least metaphorically, lanterns and candles are back but expensive. Earthen oil lamps have replaced energy savers and petromax. Raw brown sugar is now a household substitute. In rural areas, donkey carts and bullocks are becoming the preferred mode of transport. A generation bred on consumerism and leasing is rushing to cycle shops.

Being loyal that we are, we will do it ourselves and save USA the bother. Welcome to the Stone Age!

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