This Condon will not stop anything

THE International Cricket Council indulged in much fanfare when it appointed Paul Condon as its match-fixing commissioner. Lest the casual reader look askance at my describing him thus, let me hasten to add that he was given the job of finding out when, where and how match-fixing was occurring and bringing the guilty to book.

It looks like the man will not be able to do a great deal if one goes by his pronouncements last week. Not only does he seem to be unaware of the scope of his task and the magnitude, he also seems to be singularly short on intelligence. Only a fool would suggest that players who were found guilty of fixing should have all their records expunged from the game.

Strong words? Hardly. How do you take out a player's name from a scorecard? Does not such a suggestion emanate from one whose intelligence quotient is on par with that of the common cockroach? Indeed, I think we are doing that industrious insect a disservice by comparing it to Condon.

Condon is better known for having presided over a law enforcement body in England and nurtured a cultureof racism in its ranks. Probably he has connections. Nothing else can account for the fact that a man who had to quit a major law enforcement job could land a plum contract with the ICC so soon after being disgraced. The fact that he has a Sir in front of his name is merely evidence that he knows someone who doles out these rubbishy titles every year in exchange for this consideration or that.

The ICC has been hoping for a long time that appointing a commission and making a lot of noise about its intentions to clean up the game would suffice to pacify the doubting Thomases and shore up its image in the process. It has not even come close. As the initial report will show, match fixing continues to flourish and inquiries are being hijacked by politicians. South Africa made a lot of noise about its intentions too but what has happened? The inquiry has been hijacked, Cronje has filed a case and Gibbs is back in the team. Ali Bacher has disappeared into the woodwork, his allegations about specific matches now conveniently forgotten.

The West Indies have done nothing about an inquiry, Sharjah has launched an eyewash, and England continues to insist that all its players are clean as snow. Australia quietly let Mark Waugh and Shane Warne off the hook; when the board recently announced that players had received phone calls asking for information during the tour of India, there was nobody to ask why they had delayed their announcement for such a long time. And in Sri Lanka, Arjuna Ranatunge has treated the ICC investigators with contempt.

Strangely, the two countries which have done something concrete are the much maligned subcontinental neighbours India and Pakistan. It is particularly heartening to note that in India, the Central Bureau of Investigation has made a request to be a party to the case which Mohammed Azharuddin has filed against the cricket board. These cops have guts and are prepared to defend their reputations. I have a strange feeling that Azharuddin will be wasting his time in court - indeed, I would not be surprised if he suddenly decides to call off the whoe thing and go back to Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, Condon will continue to wander hither and thither and make recommendations to the ICC. I have no doubt that Malcolm Gray and Malcolm Speed (who is next in line to the CEO's chair after the wily David Richards steps down) will extend his contract for a few more years. He is exactly the kind of prevaricator needed to prolong this issue and make it disappear from the public consciousness. Of course, he could well be embarrassed by the "corrupt" police forces of some of the poorer countries - as the South Africans were. But then, despite the yeoman work done by the Indian police, they can always be dismissed in contemptuous terms by this clique who are determined to cling to power and run the game in colonial fashion.

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