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No.1 challenge is to keep the game free of corruption: Bari

- A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE
- Former captain plays a new role now
Wasim Bari on Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh

Ahmedabad: Former Pakistan captain and chief selector Wasim Bari, also an all-time great ’keeper, spoke to The Telegraph at the Courtyard by Marriott over breakfast on Friday.

Bari, 64, played 81 Tests (228 dismissals) and 51 ODIs (62 dismissals) between 1967-1984. He’s based in Karachi.

The following are excerpts

His role as the Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief instructor, focusing on anti-corruption...

I got this assignment around a year-and-a-half ago... I’ve already had sessions with around 800 cricketers, from the national-level to the U-16s. I educate. Besides, I talk a bit on cricket in general too.

If language is an issue...

It isn’t, because the ICC’s Code of Conduct has been translated into Urdu and I speak to the cricketers in Urdu... At times, in Punjabi too.

The duration of his lectures...

Usually, they’re for 90 minutes.

Thrust of his lectures...

Basically, it’s bringing about awareness, of warning the cricketers... Asking them to watch out, to use their common sense in dealing with people... To make it interesting, I’ve told some of the cricketers that don’t be fooled into believing that somebody can introduce you to Katrina Kaif. That they shouldn’t fall for a honeytrap... Also, that they should be wary of unknown people who offer sponsorship deals... Match-fixing is a menace and has to be rooted out by the stakeholders.

If he uses other examples...

(Laughs) Yes... I also talk about Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan... That the cricketers shouldn’t be conned into believing that they’ll overnight get an audience with the superstars. My message is: Don’t be fooled and don’t end up compromising yourself.

Anything else that he highlights...

That, if approached, the cricketers must reveal everything... To the team’s manager, who is supposed to be a good friend, and to the anti-corruption officer(s). Withholding information is also punishment-inviting.

A specific advice...

To stay away from Facebook and Twitter.

The cricketers’ reaction...

They enjoy the bit about Katrina, Shah Rukh and Salman... They admit that they weren’t aware of such pitfalls... Of how the fixers could operate... The lectures, I’m told, have been received well. That being so, the Board’s purpose is being served.

His response to the spot-fixing scandal of 2010, which led to Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer being imprisoned...

I was saddened, deeply disappointed... It was distressing for the fraternity. However, life goes on and you have to move forward.

Butt, the captain at that time, being the educated type...

Despite being educated, you could still get tempted... It’s a sign of the times, sign of commercialisation in all fields. Also, individuals think differently. It’s not that everybody who is educated will think the same way. That doesn’t happen.

Cricketers from the subcontinent being targeted by bookies...

Perhaps, the environment plays a part.

If he was ever approached by a bookie...

(With emotion) Never. We played for the love of the country and love of the sport, we never thought of selling ourselves. We were happy with what we got.

The biggest challenge for cricket...

No.1 challenge is to keep the game free of corruption. All the stakeholders, including the cricketers, have a responsibility.

If legalising betting on cricket in India and Pakistan is a way out...

That’s certainly one aspect of prevention... So, betting could be legalised... It’s legal in England and in some of the other countries, isn’t it? Godrey Evans, I’ve been told, would often be found at the Ladbrokes stalls across England! Offering amnesty is an option to consider as well... Look, allegations will be made and you can’t rule out unwanted people making approaches. You’ve got to combat it.

The T20 leagues coming under the scanner...

As I’ve said, allegations will crop up every now and then... There’s so much money... So, we need to keep educating the cricketers.

The final one... On coming to India after more than a decade...

An absolute pleasure... Anil Kumble looked after me and my wife so well in Bangalore and I’ve got good hosts here too... It felt so nice to again meet (Gundappa) Viswanath, (Erapalli) Prasanna, (Syed) Kirmani... Then, you just put me through to Chetan Chauhan... The tradition of being rivals on the field, but great friends off it, has to continue. I’m happy that the Board sent me to India as a goodwill ambassador. Sportsmen speak a different language.