New Delhi: With the world of cricket dogged with match-fixing scandals, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan has advocated stern action by the world body to discipline errant players.
The former Pakistan all-rounder, who led his team to the 1992 World Cup triumph, is upset that the game is being tarnished by some out to make a quick buck.
“It is very shameful. ICC should ban anyone indulging in match-fixing for life. There has to be a deterrent,” Imran told MAIL TODAY on Wednesday.
The Pakistan legend said he is surprised the malaise is afflicting cricket when there is so much money in the game.
“Cricketers today make more money in one IPL (Indian Premier League) season that I made in 21 years. There was hardly any money during the time we played cricket but this never happened then,” Imran said.
In his prime, the former Pakistan captain was a member of the great all-rounders’ club — along with India’s Kapil Dev, England’s Ian Botham and New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee — who dominated the sport during the late 1970s and 80s.
He felt that the game of cricket will be the biggest loser in this situation with the public losing faith in the players.
“With all these controversies, the fan begins to question everything,” he said.
Imran lamented the impact of the various scandals on Pakistan cricket and its credibility in recent time. “Every time we lose, fans think the match is fixed,” he said. “In the 90s Pakistan was the best team in the world but later it couldn’t win anything because of the constant pressure on cricketers because of match-fixing allegations.”
Imran took on Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray as well, after the veteran Indian politician threatened to disrupt the upcoming India-Pakistan cricket series.
“In India, those who cash in on hatred do it for their own reasons. Because they think hatred is a vote-catcher,” he said.
The former all-rounder had words of advice for the Shiv Sena supremo.
“Times have changed, move on. Have a bigger vision. Look at poor people instead, work for their development.” Imran said.
Asked if cricket can transform Indo-Pakistan relationship, he said: “If politicians make the right noises and the governments begin to come closer, it has an impact and people will change. Cricketing ties help. If there is a good atmosphere, the bond becomes stronger. If the situation is not good it can become divisive and jingoistic,” he warned.