Thursday, February 3, 2011

THOUGHTS AHEAD OF THE DOHA VERDICT

The verdict from the panel that heard the case of ICC against three Pakistan cricketers (Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir) is due to be out soon. It will, almost definitely, be a landmark verdict... and though the entire world is absolutely convinced about the guilt of the trio involved, there are still some who advocate lesser punishments as compared to the life bans on most people's minds.

I did a bit of my own thinking on this. People who advocate life bans and other stringent punishments do so with all the good intentions of seeing cricket free of all these dirty businesses. Like them, even I want to live in a world where cricket (and every other sport) is played for the pride of winning... and not on the whims of a director behind the scenes. The sole director in any sport should be the spirit of competition between the competitors. And I am sure everyone wants to see it that way (except for the bookies)!

However, I have been, for quite some time, a little unsure about what would be the ideal punishment for those found guilty of all this muck. Does a life ban serve the purpose? Or if not the life ban, then what is the alternative?

Firstly, I would like my readers to think to themselves... what is the purpose of a life ban? Most believe that a life ban will deter anyone else in the future from attempting such shady deals and that it will help cleanse our sport.

But then is that the sole purpose for which we are punishing these cricketers? Once again, lets introspect and ask ourselves, if this is the purpose of a life ban, then what is the purpose of the punishment that will be given to them? Is it just about cleaning our sport or is it something more?

The way I look at it, a punishment is meted out not only to set an example to the rest of the society, but also to help the individual who is subject to such punishment to get better as a result of it. When a criminal is jailed for a crime that he / she has committed, it is with an intention to see him / her come out of it a better individual. A punishment must deter not only the rest of the society, but also that very individual who is being punished, from committing such an offence again.

Take notice of the word 'again' above. I lay stress on it because where one says again, it implies another chance. The individual subject to the punishment should be given a chance to prove to the world that the punishment has served its purpose... and that there has been improvement... that he's come out a different person compared to the one who had been jailed! Isn't that how an ideal society should work?

If the sole purpose of giving a punishment were to deter the others in the society who may have similar motives, then isn't our system a little flawed? Aren't we running a system intent on making scapegoats out of miscreants rather than making better individuals out of flawed ones?

When politicians play their mud-slinging antics every time something is wrong and try to make a scapegoat out of their opposition, we chastise them for their acts. Aren't we doing something similar? "Be the change that you want to see in the world!" This is one of the most famous Gandhian principles. I think it applies very aptly in this case.

Coming to the case of the Pakistani trio, I believe that they must be given a chance. Giving a chance does not imply no punishment at all. Of course they must be punished... and stringently at that! But at the end of the tunnel, they should be allowed to see a small ray of light.

Punish them hard, but also allow them a chance, that somewhere down the line, they might be able to come back to the game and prove to the world that they are improved men. Punish them hard, so much so that if and when they avail their second chance, they shall not even think of trodding on the wrong path again. But at the end of the day, give them a chance!

People may ask that how can one say for certain that they will change for the better with any punishment. But then, are there any certainties in life? How can a traffic cop be certain that you will never cross the speed limits again or that you will never park your vehicle wrongly again after he has fined you? Or to ask a more relevant question, how can you be sure that handing out life bans to the trio will not deter anyone else from trying this again?

For all you know, life bans might have quite a reverse impact as well. The wrong kind of cricketers might well think to themselves that once we are caught, our game will be over... so why not make as much moolah as we can while we are still in the game! That would be a spur to these kinds of shady activities... not a setback!

Eventually, whatever may be the verdict at Doha is almost certainly going to be challenged, one way or the other. There will certainly be an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), and the men up there will have the final word.

A final word in the lives of these three cricketers... a final word for the future of our sport!

4 comments:

cricsphere said...

Whatever happened was good. Atleast we knew what are our weak points. Like our Cricket board for instance. You can't even dare to think same for BCCI, like we do for PCB. Shame upon the cricket board, because of their lenient approach made players crossing their limits so current PCB administration is the root cause of all this...

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

I think you make a great point there. Basically what is punishment? Are we condemning them forever, or trying to rehabilitate them?

Personally I think the punishments are pretty fair. 5 years each, which is what it is in reality.

Asif has previous for drugs incidents. To not see him again will be no loss to cricket in my view. He was already damaged goods.

Amir is a young man who was probably influenced. It would be a shame if he was lost to cricket forever as a result of this. He has a chance to come back now. Thats no excuse though, but (un like Asif) this is a first offence.

Salman Butt is probably, but not definately, finished as well at his age, but does the fact that he was the captain at the time make his case all the worse? I can't make my mind up on him, he seems an intelligent man who could teach people if he could come round to admitting his guilt.

The bit I find hard to take, is that they didn't get life bans but they will probably all still see fit too take their cases to CAB.

Why can't they just show some humility and accept their bans, they could have been worse. The worst case scenario now is that ICC change the code-of-conduct, that the tribunal has recommended, and we see these three back playing in 2-3 years.

One other point I'd like to make is where you said about deterrents. In a way I see your point, for example, what deterrent is any punishment to a player in his mid 30's? There is no cricketing one, so as you said, it's not just a point of deterring people with punishment, there has to be more to it than that. Just what, I don't know though.

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

cricsphere, I think you're right.

The heads of major organisations, Gov departments, International companies, etc, will usually step down after such a disaster on their watch.

Will anyone at the PCB be big enough to stand up and accept their part of responsibility? I have my doubts.

It will be interesting to hear their response to this when they do eventually surface.

I'm English and can assure you I have no bias over this. Certain members of ECB in England didn't have the guts to stand down after the Allen Stanford affair, so we can't criticise too much - as our board are no saints themselves.

Shridhar Jaju said...

Dean, I am extremely glad to see that you tend to agree to my views. I have felt very strongly about this particular subject of punishments, and whenever I talked of my views with my friends, they were of the opinion that I am wrong and that the guilty deserve no less than a life ban.

I couldn't get them to see otherwise, try as much as I might! Even the Honourable Supreme Court of India has stated on record that capital punishment should be levied only in cases that fall in the "rarest of the rare" category. A life ban is cricket's equivalent of capital punishment, and thus should be used with care!

Cricsphere, you are right! The authorities do play a large role here. As much hatred that BCCI cops up everyday, one must appreciate the efforts that they have put in to keep our game clean after the Azhar era. Our administrators and officials in BCCI are definitely corrupt, but they have not allowed the players and the game to go on that route again!

SAVE OUR TIGER!