Forget Delhi, boycott Dubai

So the Commonwealth Games has been in the news in recent weeks – for all the wrong reasons. A bed broke in the athletes’ village, one of the bridges collapsed, the roof of the weightlifting centre collapsed and protesters have come out in full force in recent days. Then there are the allegations of massive corruption (and given the dodgy dealings of Fifa and the International Olympic Committee, this shouldn’t be surprising) and the deplorable use of child labour as Delhi tries desperately to get their house in order ahead of the Games this weekend.

There have been calls for the Games to be boycotted and, indeed, some athletes have pulled out amid safety and health fears. Is everyone over reacting? Maybe. Remember that South Africa was also the subject of biased reporting ahead of the World Cup. However, it’s very difficult for even the most dodgy of journalists to over-hype a bridge collapsing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But while the world’s attention is focussed on Delhi and the Commonwealth Games – and which athletes might boycott the event – there is another boycott that should be considered – and in my opinion, supported wholeheartedly. That boycott? SA vs Pakistan in the UAE.

Starting towards the end of October, the Proteas will take on Pakistan in a lengthy, multi-format tour in the UAE. Two T20s, five ODIs and two Test matches. I do not like this, not one bit.

You might remember a little match fixing saga that Pakistan was involved in recently during their tour to England. Players bowling no-balls at set times and batting to a pre-set scoring rate – you know, that whole vibe. “Oh, but they never fixed any results,” you might say. “I don’t care,” I might respond. The players cheated. It’s that simple. Hansie Cronje was involved in this spot-fixing, as it is called, and he got a lifetime ban. Good. He deserved it. Just the same way that these Pakistani players deserve the same fate. It’s just that simple.

How the News of the World broke the match fixing saga

When these revelations came out, the England vs Pakistan series should have been halted on the spot. Why this didn’t happen, I don’t know. But it should have. And now the SA vs Pakistan series in the UAE should be halted, too. After all, how can any of the incidents (let alone the results) be considered genuine given the match fixing cloud that hovers so ominously above the field?

I spoke to a very senior cricket official last week (can’t give his name because it was an off the record casual chat) and he said that if any of the players currently under suspicion are involved in the Pakistan team, there might well be concerns raised. This is not enough. Sorry, but it’s not. The team should not be travelling there, should not be playing in this series and should not be involving themselves in any cricket against Pakistan.

This is a chance for the cricketing world – and for South African cricket in particular – to show that they are determined to stamp out match fixing and corruption in the game. The best way to show this is to remove themselves from all dealings with the individuals, teams and cricket boards involved. It’s the right thing to so.

Agree? Disagree? Email me on matthew.savides@gmail.com

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