Berry writes: "It is only natural that cricketers - or some of them at least - should reflect the society from which they come. And Pakistan is, and has been almost throughout its existence, riddled with corruption."
"Anyone growing up in such a country therefore sees the state doing nothing for its people, feels no loyalty to the state in return, and makes what money he can for himself. And it is very difficult for someone in Pakistan, if not quite impossible, to make a decent living by honest means: what money there is does not go where it should but into official pockets."
Scyld Berry says it's not surprisingly therefore, that cricket match-fixing first reared its head in Pakistan. He cited Lord Condon, the first head of the International Cricket Council's Anti Corruption and Security Unit, who in a rare interview exclaimed that the bad boys know perfectly how to entrap. Down the slippery slope the young cricketer goes, accepting the odd gift, and then money, in return for more and more important information, until he is one of the boys.
He is only following the example of his seniors, if not betters. Sexual entrapment too has been used says Berry. There is no going back to an honest life if you have taken the money, or if you have been photographed in a compromising position in a Dubai hotel. Especially for players from a Muslim country.
Are Berry's comments fair?
Are Berry's comments fair singling out one sport and one nation, or is the real question the lure of such easy money a situation that is more endemic in many sports and in many nations.
Since this cricket drama first reared its ugly head three weeks back, there have been news articles on this same illegal betting situation in US sports and in Australia's Rugby League there is now an enquiry as to legal betting over the Canterbury Bulldogs – Cowboys.
There was an unusually huge volume of (legal) betting that the Cowboys would score first in that game. In that match, right in front of the goals, in the seventh minute, the Cowboys were awarded a penalty (many commentators called it a soft penalty).
When listening to cricket commentary on the radio we are given the odds on legal betting on the game. This is not the same as corrupt betting, where there are pre arranged outcomes which can make a small fortune, but it certainly attunes the public that sports betting is for everyone to be involved.
It is not a very big step from legal betting to illegal betting. The arguments are legion. Who will know? Who will it hurt? The bookmakers have plenty! Everyone is doing it! It's very difficult to prove anything…
Former ICC CEO Malcolm Speed said on the ABC Radio and Television that the 'News of the World' are very good at such stings (this current Pakistan situation). In this case, they identified that a set number of balls bowled and in a particular sequence would be no-balls. And they were! Plenty of money was made!
Former Australian cricket captain Mark Taylor has said he felt there was something amiss in the Sydney Test between Australia and Pakistan last January when Pakistan fell apart on the fourth day's play. Taylor reflected a common concern.
Former South African cricketer Clive Rice said that match-fixing was so rife within international matches that it was only a matter of time before a player, coach or umpire paid with their life which he claims were Bob Woolmer (former Pakistan coach who died mysteriously) and Hansie Cronje (former South African cricket captain who died in a plane crash that was tampered with).
This illustrates how difficult it is to prove illegal betting.
So where do we (as an international society across the sports spectrum) go from here?
A first step might be a public (radio and television) campaign to all sectors of society giving chapter and verse as to the reasons why 'personal and corporate integrity' is so important to the good and fair functioning of all society.
A second step is an education program on personal and corporate integrity at primary school level and then in more depth at high school. University courses may also be available.
It's not that different to politics. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the classic 20th century illustration of integrity that cost him his life (against the Nazi's).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer
As a Baptist Minister it seems to me, that Bible teaching on integrity, that generations received at Sunday School (across the world), has been largely lost for three generations. Without such foundations the entire society suffers.
It's a back top basics approach.