An atmosphere of tension and suspicion, suffused by recrimination and innuendo. Pakistan’s entire reputation as a viable international cricketing nation on life-support.
In such situations, the role of a test cricket board chairman is to play the diplomat, help smooth things over, and work constructively with all parties towards achieving resolution.
And so, in walks Ijaz Butt and accuses the England side of throwing a match for cash. In a way you have to admire him, if only for the sheer scale of his monumental balls-up.
But the complicating factor is that, underneath his reckless and clumsy waffle, Butt is actually making an important point.
What he seems to be saying is this: everyone now seems to assume that Asif, Amir and Salman Butt are guilty as charged, but so far there is little hard evidence of their guilt in the public domain. Conclusions have mainly been drawn as yet from what amounts to little more than gossip. But there’s always gossip about cricketers and match-fixing – for example, right now Asian bookmakers are gossiping about the way England’s batsmen unexpectedly collapsed to defeat in the third ODI.
At least I think that’s what Ijaz Butt is trying to say – that Pakistani cricketers aren’t guilty of corruption just because they’re from Pakistan, and we must wait until the official investigations are complete before we judge the implicated players.
And if that is indeed the point Butt is attempting to make, however convolutedly, then fair enough. But don’t expect him to get a job with the United Nations any time soon.