Here’s a story we are all familiar with: You get selected to play for the country, play well enough to earn a spot in the starting XI, become famous, fix a few matches, get caught, get convicted and banned for at least five years.
One would think that after bring such disrepute to the game, the cricket community at large would shy away from any contact with such an individual. But reality is a far cry from that.
Former Pakistan skipper Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Amir are appearing on television in Pakistan as experts throughout the World T20 in Sri Lanka. While Butt is with the ARY news channel, Amir is with Express News.
Butt appears on ARY with a tagline: “Khelne se rok saktein hain, bolne se nahi. (Stopped from playing, but not from speaking).”
The International Cricket Council and the Pakistan Cricket Board are fuming but there is little they can do.
An ICC spokesman said that the appearance of the two banned players was disappointing.
“We can’t interfere or tell any media organization what to do. But certainly they need to look at these things themselves as these players are certainly not role models for the younger generation,” the spokesman said. “We can ban them from all the official channels, we won’t give them accreditation and we can tell the host broadcasters not to hire them. But other than that we can’t do much.
“The new channel needs to understand that they are cricketers convicted of cheating the public at large. Can they really be experts?”
Both players have been banned from cricket for at least five years by the ICC for their role in bowling deliberate no-balls during the 2010 Lord’s Test against England. But the TV channels probably hope that such an act will get viewers for the channel.
But what is the price of sensationalism?
The message they are sending out is that it’s okay to cheat. Butt has done an expert commentary stint earlier as well — for Pakistan’s Channel Five during last year’s 50-over World Cup but he had not been convicted then. Now he is. Can’t the channels see what they are doing?
What lessons do they expect Butt to give out? Do they expect him to be able to judge a no-ball and tell the world whether it was fair or fixed? Or perhaps they think he might be better placed to talk about the veracity of the shot played?
Either which way, the channels have shown that for a few rupees more, they will stoop to the lowest of lows and sell their souls while they are it.