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Fixing things up

WASIM Akram's reaction to the charges of match fixing against him and two other players has been to announce he would be staying out of international cricket until his name has been cleared. Towards this end, he has retained the services of a former judge from Karachi.

Predictably, Wasim has blamed the chief executive officer of the Pakistan board, Majid Khan, for the fact that the charges have been levelled at him. And, again predictably, he did not make these charges when he spoke to Pakistan's best-known daily newspaper. But he did blast Majid when he spoke to the British news agency, Press Association.

Cricket in Pakistan is an enigma. There are incredibly talented players but the level of politics often sees them perform well below their best. Imran Khan was one who was not bothered by the politics but then he was given carte blanche when he was captain. Every other cricketer has had to wend his way through the minefield with extreme caution. Many good players have retired before their time due to politics.

It looks like Wasim will be lost to Pakistan for good. The inquiry will not be over for at least a month. Then after the findings are released, Wasim plans to begin the process of clearing his name. But it may well be asked whether the inquiry will be completed, given the amount of dust it has raised already.

Wasim is definitely out of the series against Pakistan and that is a pity. The Australians will not relish playing against anything other the strongest Pakistan team, such is their nature. And without Wasim, who is still the spearhead of the pace attack, Pakistan will be at a good deal than full strength.

It is doubtful whether Salim Malik would play as well, given that fixing charges against him were first raised by three Australian cricketers. And if he is kept out, then Ijaz Ahmed may well be found on the sidelines as well.

All these happenings are certainly not good for Pakistan on the eve of a Test series against Australia. But, as pointed out elsewhere, Pakistan deserves credit for trying to clean up its act. One only hopes that the inquiry continues to a satisfactory conclusion and that one can watch cricket matches involving Pakistan in the future without suspecting every act on the field (and off it) of being part of a conspiracy.

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