AUSTRALIAN cricket has contributed many negative things to the game but its most recent gesture deserves unrestrained praise.
The Australian Cricket Board deserves three hearty cheers for allowing Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh to testify before the inquiry commision investigating match-fixing allegations involving Pakistani cricketers.
The gesture should be seen in the context of being extended during a Test series which the team is desperate to win in order to better its awful record in Pakistan. At least now, the Pakistani authorities cannot say that they did not have the cooperation of those making allegations.
But one conclusion which must not be drawn from this is that the inquiry will come to a proper conclusion and that the guilty will be made to pay. That still seems unlikely, simply because Pakistan is Pakistan.
It has been said that if the Pakistani team played to half its ability most of the time, it would be the top team in world cricket with ease. The main thing that keeps the team from consistent good performances is infighting. Under a strong leader, they shine.
There are pulls and pressures in different directions and that is obvious from the allegations made by Sarfraz Nawaz. According to him, the team lost the first Test merely to blacken the name of Aamer Sohail whom many of the others would rather not have as their captain!
Different players from different regions have their own power blocs supporting them and thus, guilty or not, they may well continue playing for the country. Further, one does not know how far the reach of the match-fixing syndicate stretches. There may be much bigger fish involved and if the inquiry even gets near these individuals, then the whole inquiry may come to naught.
One thing to the credit of the Pakistanis is that they are making an effort to make the inquiry as broad-ranging as possible. India's inquiry seems a whitewash in comparison; there was much promised at the start and little was delivered.
The process must not stop here. Each and every country involved in the game at the international level must have an inquiry to determine whether their players are clean. The mere fact that there are no allegations does not mean that everybody is a lily-white angel.
Just as there are people to ensure that drugs stay out of sport, there should be people to keep track of match-fixing. It should not require an expose in the media before action is taken. Prevention is always better than cure.