Monday, September 6, 2010

England v Pakistan T20: A series to forget already?

Pakistan made an uneasy return to the cricket field on Thursday for the first time since the match fixing scandal last weekend.

That's not uneasy in terms of their play - Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi were among the wickets in an eight run win over Somerset at Taunton - but the atmosphere among the subdued crowd suggested their thoughts were elsewhere.

That will almost certainly be the case on Sunday in Cardiff when England, the current T20 Champions, take on the former title holders in the first of a five match T20 series.

Doubts have rightly been raised regarding the decision to continue with the matches in light of the spot fixing allegations and the damage it has inflicted on the integrity of the sport.

With the England players already admitting they feel uncomfortable about playing on it is little wonder stories have surfaced about fans looking to sell their tickets as quickly as possible. The cricket betting odds suggest we're in for an exciting series, but somehow that matters less now.

Until some firm action is taken, the suspension of the three players involved - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - was a start, then any cricketing achievement will be brought into question, with fans asking was that fixed?

In the short term it is a great shame as England wrapped up the test series in fine style last weekend and should be looking forward to a return to the T20 form of the game and a chance to bring back some of the memories of last winter, when they won their first ICC tournament against Australia in the Caribbean.

Instead all the talk will be about what is happening down at Scotland Yard and in the corridors of power in the ICC.

It's no wonder fans and players alike are thinking - what's the point in playing?
But if we have to ensure a few more uncomfortable weeks, months or even years, if it rids the game of such corruption then it is a necessary evil we have to endure in order for cricket to retain its integrity.

Meanwhile, the Ashes odds suggest England will be on the end of another tonking in Australia.

The side has a lot of work to do if they are to retain the urn.

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