LAHORE - Former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja believes that the manner by which the fixing culprits were penalised would help clear the game of corruption. He believes that the incident has indirectly helped the Pakistan team gel together and play for a better future. In an interview with Gulf News, Raja, also a former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive, said: "It is sad news for Pakistan fans because they had already put the spot-fixing saga behind them, but suddenly it has erupted once again [through the court ruling].
"In a way it is a good thing that the game is being cleared of the mess. Pakistan can now look forward to a better future, especially since their performance in the last 12 months has been extremely impressive. They seem to have learned a great deal from this horrible experience." Elaborating on the lessons to the learned from the incident, which saw three of their most talented cricketers sent to jail by a British court on Thursday, Raja said: "I think this whole episode has sort of made the players gel together. Also it has given them the bond. All that we now need to do is to prove the point to the world that we are to be recognised as a good cricket-playing country and that we need to perform in every game." Raja feels the controversy has also made the task ahead of the Pakistan team a bit harder. "This incident has also made it a bit tough on themselves because whenever they lose a match fingers can be pointed at them," he said.
"It is heartening to know that they have been able to absorb all the pressures and go on to perform out there. This is something really great for not only Pakistan cricket but also for world cricket too." Raja also wants the PCB to monitor the players and the game correctly at all levels. "From the board's point of view, I feel there should be zero tolerance when it comes to indiscipline," he said. "They should put in legislation at every level of the game from under-19 and first class cricket to ensure that they boss the game in a proper manner. I think it is also pertinent for the players to recognise their importance as ambassadors of the game and that there could be no other high than wearing the green cap or green blazer when you go out there and represent the country. "They should also create a healthy environment in the dressing room by making sure that you get the right people governing the cricket team."
When asked whether the Anti-Corruption Unit of the International Cricket Council needs to be made more powerful, Raja said: "I don't think that they can have the powers of a policeman or a police department, so I think they are out there as a deterrent. "I think at the end of the day they must be happy because they had put in a strong case against these three players and the court case going in favour of the ICC would obviously give them a lot of hope. They need to keep an eye on everything."