Pakistan Cricket Board asking Muhamamd Rizwan to delete his X (formerly Twitter) post showing support for Gaza is a sorry state of affairs. Rizwan’s fans were enormously happy when he dedicated Pakistan’s win against Sri Lanka to the people of Gaza fighting oppression. But the unnecessary pressure on the Pakistani wicketkeeper to take down his post represents nothing but the intersection of politics, sports, and commercial interest. Seeing commercial interests win over ethics is a disappointing sight.
There is generally a lot of pressure on cricketers regarding the code of conduct and performance. But the fact that PCB is not coming out to protect the cricketers against outside pressure but is, in fact, succumbing to that pressure is not a good precedence. Under duress from the International Cricket Board (ICC) and Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI), PCB is stealing away freedom of expression from popular cricket stars. This is a telling of how sponsorships and commercialism dominate the sports landscape and often push it towards immoral practices.
The revelation that PCB accepted sponsorship from surrogate betting sponsors like Dafa News only adds to an erosion of trust in the organisation. Instead of protecting the cricketers, the PCB is indulged in dealings that take it off course in controlling illegal betting. For the cricketers who wish to play good cricket and uphold principles, this is a morale-breaking reality. It is rather easier to lose ethics to the glamour of the world of cricket but still, stars like Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan chose to decline multi-million offers from betting sponsors.
These striking divergent attitudes of PCB and cricketers represent a clash of interests. It is important that PCB officials work towards transparency and that more scrutiny is employed to stop any person in power from accepting seemingly attractive but unethical sponsorships. The cricketers must be encouraged for their principled conduct and should be appreciated and recognised for the same. Pakistan cricket needs good performance as much as it needs ethical ownership of the sport.