Players are threatened to do a FIX ! — Geoff Lawson

Geoff Lawson (cricketer)

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Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald

People have been quick to judge the Pakistani cricketers, but what is happening might have nothing to do with money.

If these allegations of fixing are proved, it could be related to extortion, threats, and the well-being of their own family members. It would not surprise me if illegal bookmakers have told players that if they do not perform X and Y, their families will be kidnapped or harmed.

In my time as Pakistan coach, I gained some incredible insights into the workings of the country and the team, and I’ll never forget the time the team captain called me up to his room on the eve of a match.

Earlier that day, a player who we had not selected for the game approached me, saying: ”I was told I would be playing tomorrow.” My response was, ”Well no, you’re not, you’ve obviously been given the wrong information.”

Then the skipper of the side called me late in the evening. I went to his room and he was standing there with a very sombre-looking selector.

This selector said: ”We must pick [the player who had earlier approached me], I have been told that if he is not in the team tomorrow, my daughter will be kidnapped and I will not see her again.”

At first we both laughed, but then we realised he was being serious. Our chairman then called the president, Pervez Musharraf, who in turn phoned the people behind the threats and said they had better reconsider or else. The next we heard the matter had been resolved.

We must also remember that we are judging these guys by the standards of our own country, when their situations are vastly different.

The first time I met Mohammad Amir was when he was 16 years old, coming to an under-19s camp. He comes from a small village near the Swat valley and was delayed by three hours because the Taliban had closed the highway. That doesn’t happen in this country. One thing that struck me about Amir was his constant smile, his zest for the game. That has not changed.

I will never condone any form of fixing, but we should consider that a cricketer might not be thinking of personal gain but of getting money to buy a generator for his village because they don’t have electricity.

I had a lot to do with Mohammad Asif and he was always missing training sessions to look after his sick mother. He has spent a lot of his money on looking after his family.

If Salman Butt is involved in any match-fixing, I would be absolutely stunned. He is a very intelligent, polite guy and has done well since taking over the team.

I cannot remember one incident in my time as coach of Pakistan that aroused suspicion of a fix.

I had my eye on it when Asif and Shoaib Akhtar had come back from their nandrolone bans. We had a meeting about match-fixing and spot-fixing.

We were pretty consistent during my tenure. The players knew there were financial rewards for performing well.

My first reaction to this latest news was sadness. These are people I know, people I call friends. This will probably be the end of some careers.

I don’t think Pakistan should be banished. We have seen them survive some incredible on- and off-field turmoil. You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

But I will say that the present Pakistan administration cannot escape some of the blame for this. What they need right now is positive leadership and they don’t have it. The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt, is not a leader, he should not have the job.

When I was there, the board did not have people with vested interests, they were business people who treated people fairly. The first-class players were looked after and paid well and it made a difference.

It would be the greatest tragedy if a young man like Aamer has been led astray.


What could not be recovered from the crash site

courtsy : The Dawn Blog


Just the way you wouldn’t hand weapons to an untrained army, you wouldn’t hand cameras and a press pass to untrained media representatives. However, fact of the matter is that time and time again we are reminded that the latter has been taking place in Pakistan almost constantly.

A country expects its army to protect and defend them and similarly a country expects its media to responsibly broadcast news to them.

What we saw yesterday in the wake of an enormous national tragedy was not responsible reporting. We could not even wait a few hours before we started looking for suspects to pin the blame on. We couldn’t even wait to verify the death toll before reporting that there were 40 survivors. We couldn’t even let a day pass before inviting talk show guests to discuss conspiracy theories. And most of all, we couldn’t even focus on what the language we were using must sound like to a grief stricken nation.

Yes, 152 people died in the Margalla Hills. They perished. Their families are grieving. The rescue teams and media personnel who saw the crash site first hand must also be grieving. But we are a hasty nation. We want results, we want culprits named and we want to suck every emotion and thought out of your mind when we get a hold of you. And for all of that, we will tell you that the black box was found, even though headlines this morning state that is not the case. We can not play with people’s hopes and emotions – how do you even expect a nation to trust you?

Shoving the mic in the faces of crying relatives, the media asked “How do you feel?” How do you think they felt, respected colleagues? What was a reporter thinking when she boasted about running barefoot to be the first one to ‘break the news’ for her channel?


Later at night, news channels could have easily invited weather experts, CAA officials, air force pilots who fly in those areas, geologists to explain the terrain and possibility of survival, and impact experts – what we got instead were officials who discussed the possibility of planes being shot down near the no-go zone.

Anchors harassed Rehman Malik to explain what happened and how the tragedy took place. Why would you askRehman Malik this question? I understand he is a government official but he doesn’t even know how security lapses allow suicide bombs to go off everyday, so how would you expect him to explain the technicalities of a plane crash?!

Perhaps we have become used to covering terrorist attacks in the most blatant way possible but we could have shown some sensitivity here. Since there was nothing but debris to show on the screens, cameraman panned the tattered chequebooks and broken make-up kits of the crash victims. Yes, because if I had just been killed in a horrible accident, my family would definitely want to see my belongings scattered next to my remains.

The pilot of the “doomed flight” is not sitting at home with his family. Neither is he facing an investigation of the accident. He is among the dead too. He has a family too. He was not a terrorist who wanted to take a plane full of people down with him. But we didn’t consider that when we immediately starting pointing out his age, his fatigue and his medical conditions. Even if there was a problem or a mistake at his end, lets wait for CAA and Air Blue’s official statements and investigation results before brandishing him as the one responsible for the tragedy.

Hundreds and thousands of us have travelled this airline before and because of their safe landing, we are sitting in front of our computer screens today. Yet all of a sudden we are complaining on public forums about what terrible landings travellers of the air line have to face. Guess what angry people – tons of flights often have bad landings but you cannot use that excuse to justify what happened yesterday.

I believe we are a curious nation but I do not believe we are an insensitive one. The prayers, the tears and the shock yesterday proved we have emotions – television channels played with those emotions yesterday. They didn’t realise that a mother of a victim was in shock before asking her what her daughter was like in person. They didn’t realise that flashing “honeymoon couple dead” on their tickers, would not be any more hard-hitting that the deaths of all of those who were not on their honeymoon.

I expect illiterate people or unbothered citizens not to read this but the media can and should read this. What are you doing? I may be just a few years old in this field and I may not understand the implications of being in a media rat-race, but nothing can justify what we did yesterday. Instead of giving the nation the sensitive and true reports it needed, we gave them traumatizing visuals and crude commentary.

I have spoken out loud about media ethics before but never have I felt as embarrassed as I do today to be considered a part of this ‘industry’. If any one in a position of authority understands this, take action and train your team. It’ll be the best public service you could do for a nation of lost souls.