Over the years, numerous controversies have engulfed Pakistan Cricket and inhibited its progress in one way or the other. Ranging from heinous spot-fixing and match-fixing scandals to abhorrent ball-tampering sagas and revelations regarding the use of banned drugs, several renowned Pakistan cricketers have tainted themselves.
Despite suspensions, bans, hefty penalties and even imprisonments levied on guilty players, such controversies have not ceased to emerge. The latter half of the Noughties, in particular, was one of the darkest periods in Pakistan Cricket history when a plethora of such ignominies shook the very foundations of cricket in the country.
In this article, we delve deeper into five of these controversies that have severely dented reputation of Pakistan cricket in the last few years.
Five controversies to have plagued Pakistan cricket
5. PSL spot-fixing scandal (2017)
The 2017 Pakistan Super League spot-fixing scandal came to the limelight in early 2017 when the PCB suspended several cricketers under its anti-corruption code after an investigation that was supported by the ICC.
It was alleged that the said players indulged in spot-fixing during the 2017 edition of Pakistan's premier cricketing competition. The players who were involved and subsequently penalised in this regard were Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Mohammad Nawaz.
Sharjeel Khan allegedly received 2 million Pakistani rupees for playing two dot balls in one of the PSL matches. Latif, on the other hand, was accused of trying to convince other players to partake in the fixing; he used specific bat grips to convey to the bookies that spot-fixing terms were agreed upon.
All players were heftily penalised and were either suspended or banned for various durations. Sharjeel Khan and Latif were banned for five years from all forms of cricket and their subsequent appeals were rejected too.
Mohammad Irfan was banned from the game for one year after he pleaded guilty for not reporting two fixing approaches. The most stringent among these punishments, however, was the 10-year ban handed out to Nasir Jamshed who was later also sentenced for 17 months behind bars.
4. Ball-tampering allegations, The Oval Test (2006)
In 2006, during the fourth day of the fourth Test between Pakistan and England at The Oval, umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove accused Pakistani fielders of ball-tampering. Instead of giving the visitors a warning, the umpires awarded five penalty runs to England and offered them a replacement ball as well.
The Pakistan players refused to take the field after the tea break to protest the decision, while also refuting the allegations. The umpires removed the bails and the stumps, declaring the game to have been forfeited by Pakistan.
Later, Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq was acquitted of the tampering charge by the ICC but was banned for four one-day internationals for bringing the game into disrepute. Umpire Hair, on the other hand, was banned from officiating in international matches by the ICC.
3. Shahid Afridi's ball-tampering saga (2010)
In the absence of regular captain Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi shouldered the responsibility of leading Pakistan in an ODI game against Australia at the WACA in Perth.
In a bizarre ball-tampering incident, however, Afridi was caught on the cameras trying to bite and gnaw at the ball to alter its shape. The incident took place in the second half of the game when the hosts were nearing a win, requiring a meagre 35 runs from 30 balls.
The incident was immediately reported to the on-field umpires by the TV umpire and, after a chat with Afridi, the umpires changed the ball.
Following the conclusion of the match, Afridi was investigated by the match referee, Ranjan Madugalle. The star all-rounder pleaded guilty to the charge of trying to 'change the condition of the ball'. Afridi was subsequently banned for two T20Is for the offence.
2. Bob Woolmer's mysterious death (2007)
Pakistan crashed out in the group stage of the 2007 World Cup in West Indies following an ignominous defeat at the hands of tournament debutants Ireland. Less than 24 hours later, Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was found unconscious in his bedroom. He was rushed to hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
The Jamaican police launched a murder inquiry into Woolmer’s death. It was speculated, as per initial reports, that the 58-year old was strangled to death. It was even rumoured that Woolmer had planned to write a book to expose the bookies and players alike who have damaged Pakistan Cricket and, hence, became a victim of the 'fixing mafia'.
The investigation was dropped afterwards due to a lack of sufficient evidence, and his death was declared to have occured through natural causes. To this date, Woolmer's death remains a mystery.
1. Spot-fixing scandal, Lord's Test (2010)
In 2010, the world of cricket was shaken to its very foundations in a Test match between Pakistan and England Lord's, the home of cricket. Three Pakistan cricketers - Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, the then skipper of the team- were implicated for spot-fixing.
They were accused of taking bribes from a bookmaker, Mazhar Majeed, to deliberately underperform during certain pre-arranged moments in one of the Test matches and bowl pre-planned no-balls. After a sting operation by News of the World, the three were found guilty of the offence and for bringing the game and their country into disrepute.
Following an investigation, the three players were suspended from cricket and were handed prison terms of varying durations. They were also slapped with bans from participating in any form of competitive cricket.
The incident was a massive setback to Pakistan Cricket and is one of the darkest chapters in the country's rich cricketing history.