From hero to zero. This is the story of a blundering trio of cricketers whose shameful actions have triggered a debate, not only in the cricketing circles but elsewhere too. The alleged spot-fixing scandal followed by suspension of cricketers Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif besides the arrest and subsequent release of Nasir Jamshed and a bookie named Yousuf in London has rocked the second Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Dubai recently.

Needless to say, these incidents will have an adverse effect not only on cricket but other sports in the country as well.

“We are investing millions of rupees in them and they are doing such a stupid thing and letting the country down,” said a top official of a bank while referring to the players, a source told Dawn.

Former Pakistan opener Nasir, who allegedly set up the Sharjeel and Khalid’s meeting with the bookies in the UAE, faced the wrath and was immediately fired by his employers National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) after he was provisionally suspended by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

In domestic cricket, Sharjeel Khan has represented United Bank Limited and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited while Khalid Lateef has represented NBP and Port Qasim Authority.

According to sources, the NBP spends approximately Rs70 to 80 million annually on sports.

The news that is taking round in all walks of life is that the suspected duo of Islamabad United sold themselves for a mere half-a-million rupees apiece and faced the ignominy of getting suspended and sent home.

Under the PCB slab-system, players get Rs250,000 monthly under ‘A’ category, Rs175,000 under ‘B’ category and Rs100,000 under ‘C’ category and Rs62,500 under monthly stipend category.

Nasir was in ‘C’ category while Sharjeel and Khalid were getting monthly stipends.

In addition to these emoluments, the cricketers also get handsome amounts for playing the Tests, ODI’s and T20 matches besides the other perks.

Apart from cricket, top sportsmen of the country are also getting enormous amount of money annually. Take the example of country’s top golfer Shabbir Iqbal who earned Rs4,627,479 in the last domestic season as prize money besides numerous other perks and salaries.

One fails to understand that despite such bumper earnings, why the players indulge in wrongdoings. Unfortunately, this one sad incident has spoiled all the spadework done by government and other sports bodies for the revival of sports in the country which has been isolated since 2009.

Indeed, the success of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the historic naval exercises and the PSL do not go down too well with some of the neighbouring countries who will be overjoyed to see Sharjeel and Khalid’s shameful actions denting Pakistan’s pride.

It is imperative therefore that the fixing row be treated as an eye-opener by the sports authorities and if found guilty, the players should be awarded exemplary punishments to send a tough message to the future generations of sportspersons.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2017

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