KARACHI, August 31- The latest gambling allegations to hit Pakistani cricket have left observers to ponder why the country's players are so prone to get embroiled in financial sleaze.The embattled national team is caught up in match-fixing claims after British police arrested a man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers on Sunday.
The controversy erupted after the News of the World newspaper alleged some members of the team were involved in a betting scam in the fourth and final Test against England at Lord’s which the tourists lost by a record margin.
They are alleged to have been paid to bowl no-balls at pre-determined times.
Many believe the cricketers’ plight is a reflection of Pakistani society as a whole, where corruption is rife and underground gambling dens are controlled by fearsome gangsters.
"There is a greed for money in our society and our players are part of this society," said Tauqir Zia, who supervised the first judicial inquiry into match-fixing allegations against Pakistani players between 1998 and 2000.
The inquiry, on the government’s directive, took place after allegations by Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh that then Pakistan captain Salim Malik offered them bribes to under-perform during Australia’s visit in 1995.
Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum interviewed 52 players, officials and journalists, including the Australian trio, before imposing life bans on Malik and paceman Ata-ur-Rehman.
He also fined current Pakistan coach Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar and Akram Raza.
Sadly, the punishments appear not to have set an example.
Zia believes poor education and a lack of role models is part of the problem.
"Our cricketers come from humble backgrounds, they lack proper education and they think that their only chance to earn money is while they are playing, so they want to earn as much as they can," said Zia.
"And the match-fixing circle is vicious once you enter it. There is no way out," added Zia, who has received death threats previously due to his stance against match-fixing.
Small wonder perhaps that stars like Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — both from remote and poor villages — are at the forefront of the allegations.
Qayyum, though, put the blame on the Pakistan Cricket Board.
"I think the reason for our players falling prey to this mafia is because the cricket authorities did not implement recommendations in my report, which included checking of players’ assets on an annual basis and keeping a close watch on them," the judge said.
"Some of the players who I recommended should not be given any responsibility in team affairs are now associated with the team," he added, referring to Waqar and fielding coach Ijaz Ahmed.
Former captain Intikhab Alam, now head of the National Cricket Academy, said efforts were in place to save future generations going down the same path.
"We have under-13, under-19, emerging players and remote area players’ courses in the academy and all the batches are given lectures, assistance from psychologists, so a system is in place," Alam said during a lecture last month. "In the end it’s the players’ responsibility to keep away from such elements."