In the last fortnight, two former international cricketers have been banned from the sport for their involvement in illegal and corrupt activities. Both Mohammad Ashraful and Lou Vincent were highly talented cricketers, who could have achieved a lot more than they ended up doing with better application and dedication. Unfortunately, the duo gave in to the lure of money. The pain would not have been so much had their careers been battered by injuries. But the fact that they ended up being banned for fixing proves they didn't give a damn about their gifts, the sport or their fans.
There are strange similarities in the careers of Ashraful and Vincent. While the Bangladeshi announced himself on a big stage with a ton that made him the youngest to achieve the feat in Tests on debut, Vincent, on the other hand, notched up a century and a fifty on Test debut, opening the innings, and that too against an Australian bowling attack at their peak. The stage was set for them to launch themselves into bigger things, but look where they have ended up. Neither Ashraful nor Vincent could get anywhere close to the fulfilling the kind of talent they possessed. As a result, cricket has lost out on two genuinely gifted players, who had the potential to achieve great things for their respective teams.
The fact that both the abovementioned cricketers were found guilty of cheating in T20 leagues proves that the influx of such domestic tournaments has spurred corruption in cricket. While Ashraful took part in illegal activities during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), Vincent got involved in corrupt activities during the much-maligned ICL and even the cash-rich CL T20. This is not a one-off case, which is the most worrying factor. IPL, in many ways, the rich cousin of ICL, has had its fair share of fixing-related controversies.
While a few unknown names fell to the lure of easy money, India even lost a highly-talented though erratic fast bowler like S. Sreesanth, who has been banned, and will never play for India again. There have been similar cases in other parts of the world as well, which strengthens the hypothesis. In all probability, cricketers actually believe that there isn't much at stake for them since they aren't representing the country. Most of the games are inconsequential, and it might not be hard for them to arrive at a conclusion that it is ok to throw away a few games or indulge in corrupt practices. On getting caught, however, these very players resort to 'heartfelt' apologies to try and redeem some of their lost reputation. Too much shouldn't be read into the same. It is no more than a PR tactic to try and clean up a tainted person's image.
Vincent's heart-wrenching apology is getting plenty of coverage in the sports pages, and while it sounds very emotional, there isn't much meaning to it. The New Zealander was well aware of what he was getting into. There were numerous examples of what happened to unfaithful players before him. Yet, he chose to take the wrong path. Vincent thus deserves no mercy, no sympathy at all.
--By A Cricket Analyst