Cricket never seems to be short of scandals related to betting and match integrity, and while it’s not clear if there are any actual problems at this year’s Cricket World Cup, it appears one nation is making sure to look into the first signs of smoke, just in case there might be a fire.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has sent home chief selector Moin Khan, the man in charge of selecting players for the nation’s World Cup squad, after Moin visited a casino in Christchurch, New Zealand just two days before Pakistan was blown out by the West Indies in their second World Cup match.
“There are widespread allegations into the conduct of the chief selector having brought the image of Pakistan and PCB into disrepute,” the PCB said in a statement.
Moin Never Denied Casino Visit
According to PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, Moin has been up front about visiting the casino, saying that he did so with his wife, where the couple had dinner with a friend.
“[Moin has] been recalled immediately so that he can explain his position himself, and by which time we will also have a full picture,” Shaharyar said. “When I told Moin there are lots of allegations against you, and even members of the Upper House discussed it in parliament today, he told me that all the accusations are wrong.”
The trip to the casino may not have been an issue at all were it not for the poor performances so far by Pakistan’s squad. The 150-run loss to the West Indies saw Pakistan’s first four batsmen make outs while combining to score just one run: a new record for futility at the top of the lineup in one-day cricket.
The previous record had been held by Canada, which scored just four runs while losing four wickets against Zimbabwe in 2006. The loss was the worst ever for Pakistan at the World Cup.
Specter of Previous Scandals Likely Factor in Strong Response
Between the uncharacteristically poor performance and Moin’s visit to a casino just before, it is perhaps not shocking that some would begin to question whether there was a connection. After all, Pakistan was home to a fixing scandal as recently as 2010, when members of the national team were convicted of taking bribes from a bookmaker in order to under-perform in a Test match against England.
While no players were accused of deliberately throwing matches in that case, they were found guilty of “spot fixing,” as bowlers would arrange for certain results at certain points in a match to allow gamblers to place winning in-play bets.
Of course, there are other explanations for Pakistan’s poor World Cup play as well. Since before the tournament, taking place in New Zealand and Australia, there has been talk of rifts among the squad. However, Shaharyar has denied these reports.
“There is nothing of this sort, it is just that the players have not performed well and they themselves are aware of how they have let their supporters down,” he said. “I spoke to them and I told them they can still set things right and they have promised to improve their game.”
Australia is favored to win the 2015 Cricket World Cup, with New Zealand, South Africa, and India also considered likely contenders. After their early losses, Pakistan is now considered a 33-1 long shot to win the title.