Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Should Akram be opening his mouth?

(Also in www.cricketaakash.com)

Today, Wasim Akram came out with a statement exonerating Kamran Akmal and other Pakistani cricketers of corruption in cricket.

This sounds fine on the outset. After all, Akram is Big Brother to many of the kids, and a big hand of support on the shoulders feels wonderful. Akram’s done the right thing.

He’s done the right thing, but is Akram right?

To answer that, we need to know Wasim Akram. Not the Akram who has been the finest left-arm pacer in the history of cricket. But the other Akram. The Akram who was among the many who had to appear before Justice Qayyum during the inquiry into match-fixing in Pakistan in 2001.
Of course, Akram was exonerated.

But Qayyum wrote in his report: “This commission feels that all is not well and that Wasim Akram is not above board. He has not co-operated with this Commission. It is only by giving Wasim Akram the benefit of the doubt after Ata-ur-Rehman changed his testimony in suspicious circumstances that he has not been found guilty of match-fixing. He cannot be said to be above suspicion.”

That’s the Wasim Akram we are discussing here. The Akram who was ‘not above suspicion’.

That was 2001. Cut to 2006, and the Cricinfo article filed by my friend Siddharth Vaidyanathan after meeting Qayyum: “Qayyum told us that he hadn’t wanted a great player like Wasim to be banned, especially towards the end of his career. I had some soft corner for Wasim. He was a very great player, and I was his fan. I didn’t want that towards the end of his career, he should be banned or something like that.”

So Wasim Akram, dare we say it, wasn’t totally honest. And despite the truth of his interaction with Qayyum being made public by Cricinfo, Akram remains at large. No harm in that as such, except that Akram really shouldn’t be issuing certificates to players on the subject of match-fixing. And, well, Akmal and the others may well be honest, but Akram’s certificate, to my mind, weakens their case somewhat.