Ian Baker - ICC too soft on Afridi
03 Feb 2010 - 09:44:16
The Oval 2006. Pakistani players fail to return following tea after being docked five penalty runs by Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove for altering the shape of the ball. England awarded the match.
The WACA 2010. Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan stand-in captain, banned for two Twenty20 matches after biting the ball in the final one-dayer against Australia.
Yes, only two matches. For cheating, plain and simple.
The ICC should have come down hard on Afridi, who not only has a duty to the game to play by the rules, but he should also be setting an example to the rest of his side as skipper.
What's more, Pakistan's players, who put up such a song and dance when accused of cheating themselves in South London four years ago, have done little to really criticise their team-mate.
Among Afridi's post-match apologies, sincere or not, was this telling comment: "There is no team in the world that doesn't tamper with the ball."
Is there really more cheating in the game that is not being picked up by the TV cameras?
When England's Stuart Broad was found to have stood on the ball at Cape Town earlier this year, South Africa complained to the match referee - but there was no proof whether it was deliberate or merely clumsiness.
With TV cameras constantly on players, anything will be spotted.
Unlike past incidents such as The Oval 2006 and Cape Town 2010, Afridi's moment was black and white.
Doctoring any ball, bar the accepted rubbing against your trouser leg, should be unacceptable in cricket.
The ICC should be clamping down much harder on players that do not abide by this.
Even Marcus Trescothick's claim in his autobiography that England players sucked sweets to create extra shine for the ball during the 2005 Ashes should have been investigated further.
Afridi is lucky. Two Twenty20 matches in a congested international cricket programme is nothing. He has a chance to put his feet up.
The ICC have been lenient. If Pakistan's authorities wanted to maintain the moral high ground they wanted at The Oval, they should be making a bigger example of their enigmatic all-rounder.
And if that means banning Afridi from ever captaining his country again, so be it.
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