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Three cheers for Pakistan (and none for Australia or India)

THE Pakistani cricketing authorities have taken a great deal of flak over the past few months and there have been openly racist comments about the system of justice which exists in that country. But at the time when people needed to stand up and be counted, Justice Qayyum has done exactly that.

The criticism of Pakistan has been particularly severe in Australia, mainly to deflect attention from the fact that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh were caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The Australian authorities and media, of course, have collective amnesia about this undeniable fact. That the whole thing was hidden until an intrepid journalist forced the board to open its cupboard is a piece of information that isn't circulated a great deal in public fora these days.

As far as shams go, the Indian inquiry into match-fixing must rank pretty high. There is a lot of dirt coming out now and this in itself proves that Justice Y.V. Chandrachud undertook an exercise merely to prove that it was unnecessary. The flaws in his report have been discussed threadbare so I will not go into them here. Suffice it to say, that the inquiry was an eyewash.

I wonder how much the Central Bureau of Investigation will come up with or whether the whole inquiry will be a face-saving device. I know the same thing was said about Pakistan, but this is a country I know. If Kapil Dev is guilty -- and there seems to be more and evidence emerging to indicate that the accusations against him are not mere fabrications of a crazed mind -- will the CBI have the guts to say so? If they indict Azharuddin will there be shouts of discrimination because the man is from a minority community? And Jadeja, the flamboyant one, who seems to enjoy so much political patronage -- will he be named if the facts indicate he was indeed one of the villains of the piece?

Coming back to Australia, the administrators must act immediately or else forever hold their collective peace when such issues as honesty and integrity in cricket administration are discussed. Warne and Waugh sold information. They have been fined petty amounts. Is that all the punishment they are going to get? This business of taking tough action after the horse has bolted the stables has been seen too many times and in too many countries to fool anyone. You can appoint the entire population as corruption watchdogs after the safe has been looted. You can talk about weeding about fixing until you are blue in the face. But it is all hot air; one might as well keep quiet.

Australia must also explain why David Richards has been providing the media with incorrect information about TV deals for World Cup coverage. Documents which were provided by an online cricket site have proved conclusively that Richards's statements were at variance with the facts.

The funny thing about this whole scandal is that as more facts emerge, it becomes apparent that there are even more lying hidden. And remember, only the dirty linen from a handful of countries has been hung out in public. I am willing to bet (ah, there's that ugly word again!) that there's much more to come. Else I am Hitler's Auntie Nellie.

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