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Malik's claims: where do they lead?

IT is surprising that Salim Malik chose to come out at this juncture with the claims which one British tabloid has published. But then again perhaps it can all be explained very rationally.

Malik has basically nothing to lose by making these claims -- what he has said is that he can convince any team to throw a game for a fixed sum, that there was a case of one game against Australia in which both teams were trying to lose (!!!) and that one ICC official acted as some kind of go-between in helping to fix games. And Malik is quite safe in Pakistan; he has no more international cricket career to think of and he can continue to make claims as and when he wants.

The newspaper in question apparently has videotaped these claims. But then what if Malik just turns around and says he was pulling the legs of the two reporters? The reporters in question are said to have posed as rich blokes who wanted to get a match fixed. This is the one weak link in this whole story as I doubt very much that a canny, shrewd individual like Malik would have been fooled. If he is the match-fixer he has been made out to be, then he certainly would have seen a good deal. Or did the two reporters give Malik any money to prove their bona fides?

It leaves the Australians on very shaky ground. There will have to be a thorough investigation in Australia into what exactly was going on during that one-day match in 1994 which Malik claims both sides were trying to lose. Malik has also drawn in umpires, by saying they can be bought. In short, he has opened the entire can of worms, not just a small side.

It is worthy of note that the English press has been coming up with expose after expose, which direct match-fixing claims towards the subcontinent. There was the story casting doubts on Sri Lankan cricketers a few weeks back. Then there was one about Dalmiya. Now there is a third about Malik. No doubt, there is no smoke without fire but a little bit of investigation about the claims which have been made about English players would also be in order. As also those about Australian players. There was a report not so long ago that a top West Indies player was involved. We haven't heard a word about it in the British press.

How come nobody got the idea to pose as a rich businessman and ask Shane Warne to throw a county match? (Of course, given Warne's current contribution to his county, Hampshire, it is very doubtful if he could engineer either a win or a loss). Or how come there was nobody who thought of approaching Chris Lewis and offering him a princely sum to tell his full story and name names? There hasn't been a great deal coming out of South Africa either. It would appear that people are closing ranks based on national loyalties. On the other hand, Indian papers and magazines have been full of allegations against their own players. Pakistani publications have been quiet but then the country is under military rule.

Let us get one basic fact straight: whether Malik's claims are true or not, the stink is already rather bad. Something has to be done about it and fast. No spraying of perfume on this rotting carcass will hide the stench. Damiya and his bunch have to stop talking and start doing something. The public will not be fooled much longer. Inquiries will not achieve a great deal unless there is some blood-letting. It is time for cricketing officials the world over to stand up and be counted. Else, they may well see their own source of income cut off pretty soon.

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