James Lawton: Where was Clarke's disdain when Stanford came calling to buy up cricket's dignity?

Clarke did concede that forging the Stanford connection had been a mistake

Lighting up the darkness of the Pakistan betting scam is something rather more than a flicker of compassion for Mohammad Aamer.

It is shaping into a consensus that if he was one of the perpetrators he is also potentially the most conspicuous victim. This was nowhere reflected with more poignancy than in the admission of the great England bowler Bob Willis that he was moved close to tears by the news that the stunning young prospect had been placed at the heart of the conspiracy.

There have been similar reactions from other major figures in English cricket. Geoff Boycott shook his head and said that we were in the middle of a cricketing tragedy, one that he hoped did not inevitably prevent the rehabilitation of the youth who dazzled Lord's with his brilliance last Friday morning.

Sir Ian Botham was another mourner. True, there could be no quarter for corruption, but the case of Aamer maybe presented another kind of challenge, one not just of retribution but perhaps a little understanding of circumstances that sent him so quickly down the wrong road.

However, there was not a scintilla of such feeling in the expression of the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, when he was obliged to present Aamer with a £4,000 cheque after he was named Pakistan's man of the Test series.

Indeed, so much disdain was packed into Clarke's expression it seemed a little odd that he had not conducted the forlorn ceremony equipped with a face mask and plastic gloves.

The truth is that it is impossible not to look at the resulting photograph splashed across the world yesterday and not recall another shot of the ECB chief while attending a somewhat different official occasion at Lord's two years ago.

You may just remember it. Clarke was in the company of Sir Allen Stanford and a huge Perspex container bulging with crisp $50 notes, $20m worth of them.

Stanford was allowed to fly his private helicopter, trimmed in gold leaf, down on to the manicured grass. A fine welcoming committee, including Botham and his old friend Sir Vivian Richards, had been assembled. Effusive was maybe a mild description of this reception for the man who had made such an extravagant deal for the staging of Twenty20 games in his adopted island of Antigua.

When, soon enough, US Federal investigators charged Stanford with cheating his shareholders by as much as $5.6bn, the resulting embarrassment was considerable, not enough though to persuade Clarke it might be a good idea to resign. However, he did concede that forging the Stanford connection had been a mistake – not a faulty principle, opening the gates of cricket, and its headquarters, to money from wherever it came, with scarcely a nod to due diligence, and putting sheer greed at the top of the cricketing agenda.

The young England batsman Alistair Cook put it diplomatically enough when he said if the Twenty20 cricket in Antigua was not important, the money was.

The point here, though, is that the mature, successful, Rugby- educated head of English cricket admitted he made a mistake. He didn't do it for personal gain, admittedly, but he did put his trust in someone who soon enough was proved utterly unworthy of it.

This, pretty much, is what a barely literate product of one of the world's poorest, and most corrupt, societies did when he accepted the influence of team-mates, one of whom, Mohammad Asif, had already been suspended for a drug offence. Yet there was no ambivalence in the body language of Giles Clarke when, in effect, he dismissed the presence of a young man who, whatever his culpability, was plainly inhabiting a nightmare.

To be fair to Clarke, it has to be said that his support of Pakistan cricket in the time of desperate crisis, with a boycott imposed by prospective touring teams following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore early last year, has been strong and admirable, and last Sunday lunch-time he may well have been feeling a sense of betrayal.

Still, there was a heavy implication in Clarke's demeanour that all the wrongs of cricket, the illegal betting explosion in India which provides such a magnetic lure for the match-fixers, the corruption which brought down the captains of South Africa and India, Hansie Cronje and Mohammad Azharuddin, the long history of Pakistan cricket's laxity in imposing discipline, could be conveniently placed on some young and drooping shoulders.

This was the shock of that painfully explicit photograph. There were no shades of meaning, no understanding of wider problems, in this building in which, from time to time, men of vastly greater experience and fortune than the devastated Aamer had had reason to hang their heads in shame. We need only skim the surface of English cricket to encounter some significant outcrops of hypocrisy.

There was the sacrificing of Harold Larwood, on whom the bodyline crisis which threatened relations between Australia and a perfidious mother country was conveniently dumped. There was the exclusion of Basil D'Oliveira from the tour of South Africa, after he made 158 and took vital wickets in an Oval Ashes Test and then refused to stand down despite an offer from a South African businessmen of a house, a car, £40,000 and a 10-year-contract to coach black players in the homeland which never allowed him to play first-class cricket. None of the workers of such moral atrocities were ever required to stand in shame, without the smallest gesture towards their vulnerable humanity, in the way that Mohammad Aamer was last Sunday.

This is wrong not because Aamer is innocent, and can reasonably hope to escape without some punishment for his misdeeds. It is just too judgemental, too easy, and does not begin to recognise the fact that cricket did nothing to protect arguably its brightest star. Where were the leaders of cricket when the dynamics of the boy's downfall were being put in place? Universally, it seems they were on other business, some of it fawning on crooks with bags of gold.

Montgomerie right to choose passion of Molinari over absentee Casey

Who would be Ryder Cup captain? Two years ago Sir Nick Faldo suffered one of sport's worst public relations disasters. Ian Woosnam got so worn down he announced that Europe's victory at the K Club in Ireland was one of the greatest events in human history.

Colin Montgomerie is handling the pressure somewhat more adroitly, though inevitably eyebrows have been raised over his preference for his friend Padraig Harrington over English golf's poster boy Paul Casey.

However, there cannot be much doubt that he was right to give the nod to Edoardo Molinari. Apart from his nerveless victory in the last qualifying event, the 29-year-old Italian has displayed a degree of passion which, one senses, is beginning to drain from the Ryder Cup.

At one point there was a suspicion that the old match had become a convenient place to polish some of the images dulled by constant failures to make an impact in the majors, where intense pressure on individuals is not cushioned by the team concept. Now, we seem to have something of a reverse, one perhaps exemplified by Casey's shunning of the Gleneagles event in which he could have nailed down his presence in Wales at the end of September. Casey was said to be near to tears when he heard the news of his exclusion.

Monty, apart from rewarding Molinari, has made the point that if Casey wanted it so much he would have rearranged his schedule. You can't have everything you want, even if you can get to be a multi-millionaire without ever winning a major. Perhaps the captain was saying that the Ryder Cup is still something more than an optional extra.

Capello may yet reap rewards of his waiting game with Walcott

Open season on Fabio Capello rages on so strongly that it is quite refreshing to see that no one has yet performed dire surgery on his decision to leave Theo Walcott at home for the World Cup.

The brilliant form of the Arsenal man might constitute in some minds the basis for still another attack on Il Capo. However, it could just be that Capello was as right to leave Walcott at home as Sven Goran Eriksson was wrong to take him to Germany four years ago.

Maybe Walcott's most pressing need was for someone to concentrate his mind in a meaningful way. This Capello appears to have achieved with his conclusion that the player's development had stalled. Arsène Wenger is, for the moment at least, the chief beneficiary, but who knows? Maybe Capello will draw some benefit against Bulgaria and Switzerland. Football is supposed to be a funny game and, heaven knows, Capello is due a smile, if not a kind word.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?