'Why is only Pakistan singled out for match-fixing?'
KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain and match-fixing whistleblower Rashid Latif said Monday that cricket as a whole remains far from clean and his country should not be singled out.
Latif, who lifted the lid on match-fixing within his own team in 1994, was reacting after The Mail on Sunday said the recently concluded one-day series between Pakistan and the West Indies was being probed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“These are serious allegations that need to be investigated and the newspaper will have to provide the evidence in this case,” said Latif, who played 37 Tests and 166 one-dayers for Pakistan.
But, he added: “If the newspaper fails to provide evidence then the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) must take them to court – and if they don't, I will.”
Latif, 44, became an anti-fixing crusader after retiring and in 2010 suggested a delay in the broadcast of live matches to curb spot-fixing – a measure later taken up by broadcasters.
He told AFP that an ICC official informed him a Champions Trophy match in June that did not involve Pakistan was suspicious.
“An ICC official told me that a Group A match was suspicious, but why has there been no mention of it?” Latif told AFP. “It's true that our players were caught but why are only Pakistan matches reported?”
Pakistan has been badly hit by match-fixing scandals with former leg-spinner Danish Kaneria the latest to face a life-ban over a spot-fixing case during a 2009 county match between Essex and Durham.
Three other top players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – are also serving bans in a spot-fixing case that surfaced on team's tour of England in 2010.
In 2000, Pakistan banned former captain Salim Malik and paceman Ata-ur Rehman after a two-year long judicial inquiry conducted by Lahore high court judge Malik Mohammad Qayyum.
Latif, however, accused the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) of making Kaneria a scapegoat.
“Right from the onset the ECB did not have a strong case against Kaneria.
It seemed that it was just to show the world that their county cricket was clean from fixing,” Latif said. Kaneria was banned in June last year after his Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield blamed the Pakistani leg-spinner for pressuring him to concede an agreed number of runs in an over in the match.
His appeals against the ban and for a reduction in his punishment were rejected earlier this year.
“The ECB's ego got severely hurt that an English cricketer got busted in a fixing scandal but because of the other case of Pakistan cricketers (in 2010), the ECB wanted to prove a point that Pakistani cricketers are the ones who are at the wrong end,” said Latif.
Spot-fixing involves the fixing by bookmakers of parts of a game, such as the number of no-balls or the run-rate. Match-fixing is when the outcome of the game is predetermined.