Former England cricket captain and legendary all-rounder Ian Botham on Wednesday accused the International Cricket Council (ICC) of being soft on corruption in the past and asked the governing body to be more proactive in its approach to deal the menace.
Botham pointed out that the conviction of the former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif has put an added responsibility on both the PCB and the ICC to act on an urgent basis. “Pakistani cricket has serious problems it needs to address and with three of its players caught up in this case, the question is whether there are more,” Botham insisted.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has a responsibility to act now, as do the ICC, who have been so weak in the past and have swept problems like this under the carpet. The ICC must be constructive. Everyone seems to pretend the issue isn't there. It is and must be addressed,” Botham wrote in his column for the Daily Mirror.
The veteran reiterated that what happened with Pakistani cricket can happen with any other nation and urged the governing body to instill a sense of fear among the cricketers against corrupt practices. “You have to put fear into the players and make them realise, ‘This is my career, this is my future, is it worth it?'” said Botham.
“This is the line in the sand the authorities have been looking for and it is not just Pakistan which needs to be worried. Evidence suggests corruption found an ideal place to grow in that country, but can happen anywhere and for any other nation to think otherwise would be foolish,” he added.
He, however, raised his concern for the young cricketers who can be lured and forced by the senior members. “My worry always will be for young players who can be more easily manipulated and threatened by those senior to them. That is why I'm pleased the jury saw just how much influence Butt had and how he orchestrated the whole thing,” Botham noted.
Meanwhile, writing for the Daily Mail, former skipper Nasser Hussain said, “The crucial thing is that the game now deals as thoroughly as it can with this scourge. This cancer will resurface if it isn't dealt with properly. I would give some credit to the ICC on this. Yes, it is a wake-up call for them that the spot-fixing was exposed by a newspaper. I just hope now that the (ICC's) Anti-Corruption Unit is a little more pro-active.”
“Rather than just waiting for a rumour to surface, I'd like to see them try to uncover problems themselves — even if that means setting up a sting operation. It will take time, but we can't rest until we're all able to watch a game of cricket without raising our eyebrows every time someone oversteps or drops a sitter,” Hussain said.