Ijaz Butt has a point

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.

Maxie Allen


  • Very interesting theory…

    I listened to Ijaz Butt being interviewed by Aggers at half-time at the Lord’s ODI on 20th September. If that was his point, it wasn’t a point he made very clearly then, nor was it what I understood him to be saying.

  • I listened to Butt on skysports news yesterday. I couldn’t understand a single word he said, let alone decipher a coherent argument. At one point I had to ask whether he was even talking English.

  • Sorry Maxie
    I haven’t agreed with you guys since this whole issue with Pakistan started this summer. Whilst I am not a fan of the News of the World, they are not muppets, I do not believe that they would have made the accusations that they have without proof. Pakistan cricket, on the other hand, do not have the best reputation.
    We talk about “innocent until proved guilty” but that stance, in this case, would suggest that the News of the World is guilty of incompetence or dishonest journalism.
    Regarding evidence; The News of the World have supplied numerous pieces; information about currency serial numbers that matched with the money found in the players rooms, video tapes with an agent and a player & information on foul balls that matched with what actually happened on the day.
    The evidence for England cheating? No one seems to have anything.
    During all of this the ECB have behave particularly well; they have honoured their games, including the flood victims charity matches and they have communicated in a mature and restrained way.
    Butt on the otherhand in this interview, which I have watched, ranted and threw around unfounded accusations that embarrass his country at a time when they need support from the world.
    Your “lets not judge the players too soon” I can kind of understand but pretending that the case against the England players and the Pakistani players is in anyway similar is actually insulting to the English cricket team and paints Butt as a man with guts rather than an idiot (which is how I view him)

  • There are two seperate issues here.

    Certainly, things look less good for Amir, Asif and Butt, although it is right they remain innocent until proven guilty. That it is notoriously difficult to prove guilt in such situations is neither here nor there. I suspect most fans sense foul play, and will condemn them accordingly.

    In relation to the latest investigation, I have some sympathy for Ijaz. He is a man that shoots from the hip, and has a few problems articulating himself, as Morgsie points out. Given that we know next to nothing about the allegations, he is right to defend his team. And while he may have couched his defence in more diplomatic terms, the foundation of his argument is valid.

    Namely, that anonymous tip-offs see the book very publicly thrown at Pakistan, while rumours that England threw the game are dismissed as absurd. They should be, of course, and I don’t think Ijaz believes them for one second. He was merely making a point – very badly.

    I am also sceptical about the nature of the allegations. If you’re going to pay big money to influence a game, you demand guarantees. Look on any betting site and there are plenty of ways of doing that. Betting against the bent player to be top runscorer, for instance.

    Or delivering a no-ball at a certain time …

    What’s being suggested is a gamble in itself. There’s simply no way you can ensure a certain number of runs are scored / not scored over period of time, as there are way too many variables. 5 wides, anyone? Overthrows? Hat-trick? Seems a little implausible to me, and I bet a lot.

    Anyway, I have UTTER confidence the ICC will sort it out …

  • Mr Butt’s action are shameful to cricket lovers everywhere. Let’s consider what we do know:

    1. The News of the World and Sun had information which they felt they could publish about cricket corruption. They will not have done so lightly due to liable laws.
    2. On the basis of this and other information the Metropolitian Police have interviewed a number of people under police caution. They found enough evidence to formally pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.
    3. Similarly the ICC has considered the evidence and taken action under the ICC’s code of conduct. Remember the ICC is a body formed from and by the national cricket boards.
    4. Innocent until proven guilt is a concept in English Law but not the case in many other countries. And before people get excited, Scottish Law does not use this principle n
    5. The ICC has formal arrangements for it’s members to report suspect illegal activity. It does not include the media.

    Mr Butt is the Chairman of the PCB. Would we accept Lord Coe saying that he’d heard rumours of a French athlete taking drug when and British running had been suspended on the Test A results? We all know that rumours abound but unless you have evidence then senior figures should not entertain them in this manner. Mr Butt should know better and Pakistan Cricket deserves better.

  • A lot of good comments here. I disagree with Butt strongly, but perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to judge. I’ve just remembered what Lords Triesman of the FA said about Spanish/Russian corruption in football. Of course, Triesman was roundly condemned and lost his job, but it shows that English people can make idiots of themselves too.

  • Thanks for a very interesting range of views. To clarify, I’m certainly not trying to condone Butt’s extremely reckless conduct. I imagine that Pakistan supporters across the world are holding their heads in their hands in embarrassment, wincing as with every further word he digs himself deeper. But I stand by my point that it’s important to differentiate between gossip and hard evidence.

  • Morgsie. Yes Triesman failed to meet the standards of the office and lost his job – rightly so. If Butt’s point was nationality shouldn’t matter (Maxie’s point I think) then I agree and he should resign immediately for failing to meet the standards required by the office of a chairman of a national cricket board.

  • I tend to agree. Imagine if Giles Clarke had said that Pakistan has thrown a match! You just can’t say that kind of thing if you’re head of a national cricket board. His words might have been chosen for domestic consumption in Pakistan, but he showed no awareness of, or concern for, the game’s global repuatation and welfare.

  • Don’t dispute that Butt should resign – the man is clearly a liability, and is bringing the game into disrepute. Even so, I still think he has a point.

    Also, just because the innocent until proven guilty thing is an English thing, doesn’t make it wrong.

    One last thing: The News of the World haven’t had much success with any of their betting scoops in court. When all the evidence is presented (which it never is in the paper) things suddenly become a little less clear. Followed the Fallon case quite closely, and it’s unbelievable what they conveniently neglected to mention in their coverage, even though everything they did report was factually accurate.


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