Where is Ijaz Butt?

An Englishman has just pleaded guilty to a charge related to spot fixing and Ijaz Butt has this magnificent opportunity to be shouting about it from the roof tops, but he is no where to be seen or heard. Why?

Butt must have been longing for this day over the past 18 months so that he could put the boot into England over match fixing and kick us off the morale high ground that we English had been occupying until yesterday.

I’m sure though that he will speak out soon, he is probably just preparing a massive statement and is taking his time over it to make sure he gets in as many telling blows as is possible.

So come on Ijaz, hurry up. I can’t wait much longer…..

Will Ijaz Butt go this time?

I see that former ICC member Ehsan Mani of Pakistan is demanding the resignation of Ijaz Butt, blaming Butt and the PCB for their part in (as he calls it) the end of the careers of the three players suspended today.

Ultimately the three players took the bait themselves, there can be no doubt about that and they have to take a good look at themselves and accept responsibility for their own actions. But I do believe that the PCB must also accept their fair share of the blame.

Afterall it happened under their supervision. It also happen under Ijaz Butt’s watch. Can Butt and the PCB really claim to have done as much as possible to prevent this?

The answer is clearly no. Otherwise why did ICC feel the need to issue them with a stern warning last October and tell them to toughen up their attitude towards corruption?

If this happened in England, I’m sure that the top brass at the ECB would be expected to fall on their swords – although looking at the current incumbents and their track records, I’m not 100% sure they would.

Imran Khan has repeatedly called for change at the top of Pakistan cricket, maybe this is the incident to finally make people there wake up and rid the PCB of all the dead wood and to start running it like a professional organisation.

They have a chance now to wipe the slate clean and show that they are serious about stamping corruption out. Lets hope they take it.

World cricket needs Pakistan, but not as much as Pakistan needs world cricket.
A decent Pakistan team that people believed in, with the raw talent they have at their disposal would make world cricket a far better and stronger place.

But people would have to be able to believe in them, believe what they are watching to be true, as without that trust we have no game.

This has been a shameful event for cricket, I will never forget the sight of Michael Holding all but breaking down in tears live on Sky Sports while discussing this scandal the day it broke.

Here was a cricketing legend, a big strong minded guy, reduced to tears about what was happening to the game he loves. It was an awful sight.

The most worrying aspect of all this, is that some people still don’t seem to get it. I have already read a report where people in Pakistan are claiming that the three are totally innocent. In fact reading the remarks made by a couple of the lawyers, I’m not sure that the tribunal totally get it either.

The fact that the tribunal wrote in it’s report that it recommended to the ICC certain changes to the Code with a view to providing flexibility in relation to minimum sentences in exceptional circumstances, is worrying. So far this has already given two of the lawyers the belief that their clients would have got leaner sentences had they had the power to do so.

They have all basically got the minimum 5 year tariffs, never mind the headline grabing 10 years ban for Salman Butt, he could be back playing in another four and a half years.

Rather than being thankful that they didn’t get the worst case scenarios of life bans, they would appear to be off the opinion that they have been treated harshly. So far Amir’s lawyer has already come out and said he will appeal, Butt’s has intimated that he will also do so. How long before Asif as well? Unbelievable.

The PCB Charm Offensive

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s new charm offensive took another positive step today with the return to the ODI squad of Younis Khan. The reason why I see this as a positive step is because Younis is one player who has the respect of fans and players around the world, he represents the better image of Pakistani cricket.

This move comes on top of a new revised code of conduct which the Pakistan players will be expected to sign before the South Africa series, the view is that it will be strong on anti-corruption issues.

It also comes on the back of the news that Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have all been banned by the PCB from using the facilities at the National Cricket Academy in the Gaddafi Stadium, until the spot-fixing issues are resolved.

This is obviously the PCB (or Ijaz Butt) finally sitting up and taking notice of ICC’s warning to them that they will be booted out of cricket if they don’t get their act together – and fast.

It seems to me that ICC have gone out of their way not to tackle Ijaz Butt head on, as who knows where that might lead, but they have made it clear to him that what has gone on over the past 2-3 months is totally unacceptable.

With the way the temperamental Butt behaves, to have gone after him in an aggressive manner could have resulted in the sort of war of words that would have damaged cricket and could ultimately have left ICC with no option other than to boot out Pakistan.

I’m sure ICC will be far happier when/if Butt is removed from his post, but in the meantime this particular diplomatic route seems to have avoided more confrontation with the mad man.

It is though, a shame that it has to take such threats for the PCB to start acting more responsibly, it also remains to be seen how long this more mellow and co-operative PCB will continue to behave in this positive way.

We all know we might not have to wait too long before we see the real Ijaz Butt again. Lets enjoy the peace while it lasts though.

Ijaz Butt Apologises!

So finally Ijaz Butt has apologised for, and retracted the slanderous remarks he made about the England team taking “enormous amounts of money” to lose the 3rd ODI at the Oval.

I wonder who, or more to the point, which lawyers persuaded him that this was the wisest course of action to take?

Butt claimed it was all just a big “misunderstanding”. Well, I heard and seen the footage of him making those remarks, and I have to admit that I fully understood what he said.

Fair play to Andrew Strauss and the England team for accepting his apology and moving on though, it shows what a mature bunch of guys they are. Although I bet that privately they are still seething, and probably think that ICC should do something about it, as I do.

I wrote on this blog yesterday that Butt is an ICC director and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to get away with going around making outrageous, damaging claims such as this. They were not just damaging to England, but to the game of cricket as a whole.

So will ICC charge him with misconduct? Or are they just going to send out the message that it is ok for their directors to go around behaving like this?

We live in hope, but sadly not much expectation!

Enough is enough, Mr Butt

So far on this blog I have avoided passing any judgement, or endulging in any serious bashing of the Pakistan cricket team and their alledged involvement in the spot-fixing controversy.

Ok, there may have been the odd sarcastic remark, but no accusations or serious criticism.

It is fair to say that I have dished out a bit of stick to certain elements of the Pakistani political elite, such as the High Commissioner, Wajid Shamsul Hasan and Ijaz Butt.

But generally, I have reserved judgement and am waiting for the results of the investigations by both the police and ICC’s anti-corruption unit before expressing my views. One thing that I do feel obliged to write about now though, is Ijaz Butt and ICC.

Why has this man not been taken to task yet by crickets ruling body? The way he is being allowed to drag cricket through the gutter is a disgrace and a joke.

Ijaz Butt is an ICC director, a role he is entitled to occupy as Pakistan cricket chief. One of his duties in this role though, is too look after the wider good of the game, in other words you put the good of the game ahead of your own national interests.

I think it would be fair to say that Butt has failed miserably to adhere to that rule.

In accusing England in the way he did, he has also claimed to have evidence that England have thrown a match. If this is the case, has he reported it to the ICC anti-corruption unit (ACSU)? Because if he has, it has been kept very quiet.

On the other hand, if he has this evidence and hasn’t passed it on, then surely he has broke the rules regarding not passing on information about match-fixing, which surely should result in some sort of disciplinary action against him.

Either way he must have broke a serious rule somewhere? He has either defamed the England team, or he has withheld evidence. Which is it?

So come on ICC, what are you going to do about it? It’s no good waiting for ECB and/or the England team to sue him and then thinking ‘thats are job done for us’, as that is a private matter for the English.

It’s up to you ICC to take some action, you run the world game. How can you just sit back and watch this loose cannon drag (whats left) of the good name of cricket through the mire like this?

It’s getting ICC nowhere pussy footing around Butt and trying not to give him any more amunition to say ‘the whole world is conspiring against Pakistani cricket’. So tell him ‘to put up, or shut up’! Or just suspend him.

ICC, you (supposedly) run cricket, so why don’t you deal with it and stop letting this man walk all over you.

Ijaz Butt returning to London!

Oh no, here we go again, apparently Ijaz Butt is on his way back to the UK on Tuesday for a meeting with the solicitors representing the three accused players in the no-balls scandal.

All of London’s top libel lawyers should drop everything and be on red alert in case Butt makes any more outrageous libellous comments.

Maybe this time Butt will manage to keep his gob shut (a wise choice in my view), but I just can’t see it, he will have to say something, surely. He just can’t seem to help himself.

So far there has been no retraction of the remarks he made about England players throwing the 3rd ODI at the Oval, so it will be interesting to see if the players and ECB are in a position to issue him with a writ for what he said.

Then again, could he surprise us all? Maybe he is coming armed with all his incriminating evidence that England did in fact chuck the game. Maybe he has got all his names and information he promised us from his good friends in the ‘bookies circle’.

Maybe pigs might fly!

Ijaz Butt, at last

At last, we have it, Ijaz Butt has finally given us his well overdue, and typically crackpot view on the spot-fixing scandal currently engulfing the Pakistan cricket team.

I can kind of understand Butt’s point of view that he believes there is a conspiracy against Pakistan, and that the media in certain countries is biased and not fair, as the latest allegations appear to be very vague. I can also understand him being a bit pissed off by not getting told about them before ICC made a public statement.

But his attack on the England cricket team is just absolutely amazing. He said…

“There is loud and clear talk in bookie circles that some English players have taken enormous amounts of money to lose the match [Friday’s third ODI]. No wonder there was such a collapse.”

To make an accusation like that is staggering. Remarkably, in the same press release he also said that when they name the sources behind the conspiracy, that “we also reserve the right sue them for damages” and that “we have thought about this properly and we have positive proofs here before us just like they say they have also.”

I beg to differ that he has thought about anything properly regarding this statement. To say what he has about the England players, and then in the next breath, threaten to sue people is laughable. I know who I think is more likely to be sued.

Butt had been, up until today, remarkably restrained with his views on all this, but he did have the Pakistani High Commissioner filling in for him with his own brand of madness.

Even by Ijaz Butt’s usual eccentric standards, this one is a real bloody good un!

Pakistan High Commissioner

The chap in question, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan high commissioner to the UK, has all of a sudden gone very quiet. Gone are all the brash statements that it’s a “set-up”, and “we will go to a court of law to defend them”, to be replaced with a defening silence.

How come he hasn’t remarked on the latest round of NOTW allegations? Where is the robust defence of Yasir Hameed on the steps of the High Commission?

I wonder if someone somewhere might have whispered in his ear, that actually these allegations might be true, and therefore it might be in your interests to keep your opinions to yourself until we know more, or all of the facts.

Hasan’s statements have been quite remarkable. If it turns out he has backed the wrong horse in this race then how can he be taken seriously in future?

In his line of work credability must be essential, and it must be important not to lose it with a series of ill-advised statements.

Only time will tell if he was right, but a telling note in all this could be the fact that even Ijaz Butt has decided to keep his opinions to himself.

Spot-Fixing Bandwagon Rolls On

There still appears to be more questions than answers at the moment, but the Spot-Fixing scandal now (thankfully) seems to be moving to a faster conclusion after ICC charged the 3 men in question with “various offences” under the provisions of the Anti-Corruption Code.

What the offences are, we don’t know as that information hasn’t been released. Questions have also been asked of why it took ICC until Thursday to charge them in light of the evidence already in the public domain.

Personally, I wonder was the ICC’s decision reached after the bombastic inputs from Pakistan’s high commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan?

Hasan, who seems like a man who can make Ijaz Butt look moderate, started his tirades earlier in the week by claiming the players were innocent, and his evidence is? Because they told him so.

This man is something else, could you really see a British equivalent behaving in such a brash manner in these sort of circumstances? I couldn’t, as I think he might find himself out of a job.

Surely a man in a position of such importance should be more cautious with his remarks. After such a robust defence if the accusations turn out to be true how can he ever be taken seriously again? There are better and more diplomatic ways of defending your fellow countrymen than the way Hasan has gone about things.

He then later went on to claim that the whole thing was a set up by the News of the World, and that they would take the paper “to a court of law to defend them”. Not surprisingley, the NOTW were not impressed and after saying the claims were “ludicrous”, they rather ominously said “watch this space”.

Hasan, then on Friday accused ICC of “playing to the public gallery,” in suspending the trio. He also accused ICC of giving assurances that they wouldn’t act until Scotland Yard’s investigation were over. All of this was unsurprisingley denied by Haroon Lorgat.

With further claims that Ijaz Butt had to be pursuaded to withdraw the players from the rest of the tour to protect the integrity of the game by Haroon Lorgat, it is no wonder that ICC had to take the lead and suspend them. It looks like they had no choice but to act, as it would appear they would be waiting a long time if they waited for the Pakistani authorities to take the lead.

I’m now waiting for Ijaz Butt to start shooting from the hip as well, that should be fun, it’s remarkable how after a week he hasn’t come out with some outrageous take on what has happened.

There is apparently a game of cricket to be played sometime soon, but in the current constant media frenzy it is easy to forget this. Although maybe that could yet be in the balance depending on what the NOTW comes out with this Sunday. It is almost certain that the newspaper has plenty more up it’s sleave, and is the best/worst of the news still yet to come?

In the meantime we can wait and see what claims and counter claims come out on Saturday. Maybe Hasan will have a day off, and see if he can be bettered by Ijaz Butt, or anybody else that fancies a go.

If it wasn’t so serious to the game of cricket, it would all be quite funny.

God help us!

The one and only Ijaz Butt is back on the scene to give his expert leadership and guidence in the Spot-Fixing scandal currently dominating cricket. Butt is just the man you need in the middle of a crisis, who better to steady the ship and calm the waters than the PCB Chairman. I suppose it was inevitable that as leader of the PCB, he would raise his ugly head at some stage, but for some reason or another I had forgotten about him.

Maybe I sub-consciously thought that there is no way this man could still be involved in Pakistani cricket, but obviously I was wrong.

It would appear that Butt is defending his men and looking for a fight. Both the England team (speaking through the Professional Cricketers Association), and ICC have made it fairly clear that they don’t want the three accused to play in the upcoming limited overs series.

Butt though has different ideas, he claims that no one has been found guilty and as a result he is not prepared to suspend anyone, and is giving the indication that he wants the three to carry on playing until the issue is resolved.

Diplomacy at its best.

I have a feeling that this could end up becoming a major issue by the weekend. The England players seem to have made it clear that they don’t wish to compete with anyone under investigation, so if Butt continues to dig his heels in there could be a bit of a stand-off.

The ECB will obviously have no intention of losing revenues and calling the games off as a matter of principle. The thought of that would mean someone having to take Giles Clarke’s laces and belt from him.

For Ijaz Butt to be coming out with remarks like “This is only an allegation. There is still no charge or proof on that account. So at this stage there will be no action taken.” shows that he wants to fight his corner, and in his defence it could be argued that they should be classed as innocent until proven guilty.

But from a diplomatic point of view, it is the usual two fingered salute from Butt. The better and the good of the game of cricket on the whole still dosen’t rank too highly on Butt’s priority list.

I await with great interest his next intervention. Maybe he will claim it is all a set up and an act of revenge from his old mate Chris Broad. One thing is for sure, it will be somebody else’s fault.