Here are a few questions it might be worth considering in the light (if that is the right word) of the Pakistan cricket allegations.
First, why do bookmakers accept such ridiculous bets? If they didn’t, the opportunities for the kind of scam alleged would never occur.
How much can bowling three no-balls affect the result of a Test Match? The over-reaction of the cricketers and commentators to the News of the World story is bizarre.
Why do we love to stand in judgement on people whose lives we know almost nothing about? Refusing to shake Amir’s hand or acknowledge his undeniable brilliance was childish and judgmental.
How much pressure do you think might be put on a talented 18-year-old bowler by more experienced members of the team? Could threats to his safety or that of his family be involved? Could his progress in the national team be involved? I am not saying this happened: I am just saying it might have. We don’t know.
We are fortunate to live in a country where the rule of law is upheld, we are not oppressed by huge natural disasters, and the Lake District is not under the control of the Taliban. Shadowy figures with the potential for violence rarely cross our paths. So can those calling for a life ban on the accused cricketers be sure that in no circumstances, ever, could sufficient pressure be put on them to bowl a no-ball at a specific time? It does, after all, seem a relatively harmless thing to do.
Would those calling for a permanent ban on Pakistan’s cricketers like to live in that country for a couple of years?
I am not, incidentally, saying the English are naturally honest, while foreigners aren’t. While staying in Italy recently, it was routine for shopkeepers to leave you alone in the shop with valuable merchandise while popping out to get something. And in Greece a few years back I mistakenly left my camera on the pavement while we wandered off up the street. Half an hour later it was still there.
Would that have happened in England? I’m not so sure. What I am sure about is that we would lose no time in condemning anyone dishonest, because we have such a high opinion of ourselves. We even get apoplectic about a woman popping a cat in a wheelie bin.