Kyle McCallan took two wickets in Ireland’s shock victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup — and is certain that their now controversial opponents were giving their all.
Pakistan cricket is currently in turmoil following accusations of ‘spot-fixing’ during last week’s fourth Test defeat against England.
But McCallan has solid foundations for his opinion that there was nothing untoward about Pakistan’s display against Ireland at Sabina Park, Jamaica back in 2007.
Pakistan had already lost to World Cup hosts the West Indies and went into the game against Ireland in need of a victory to keep their campaign alive.
“There is no way Pakistan would throw a match that their World Cup hopes depended upon,” said McCallan. “And when you look at the way their bowlers celebrated the wickets they took, it’s clear that Pakistan were giving it their all against us.
“I have absolutely no doubt that they were going all out to beat us.
“It was a great victory for Ireland and nothing that has happened since with Pakistan has diminished it,” said the former Ireland skipper, who has nothing but fond memories of a win that steered Ireland through to the World Cup Super Eights along with the West Indies, while Pakistan were on the next flight home.
The intrigue surrounding Pakistan at the 2007 World Cup deepened when the team’s coach Bob Woolmer — the former England Test player — was found dead in his hotel room shortly after the defeat by Ireland.
Rumours abounded that Woolmer had discovered his team had been involved in match-fixing, was about to tell all and was therefore murdered — it later transpired he had died of a heart attack.
The current spot-fixing story broke on Sunday morning — and McCallan was not completely surprised about the allegations.
“I was deeply disappointed when I read the allegations.
“But I can’t say it was a complete surprise.
“There have been rumours about that sort of thing doing the rounds for some time,” he said.
And the Grosvenor Grammar School teacher is clear about the hard line that should be taken by the cricket authorities against anyone found guilty of these type of offences.
“Anyone found guilty should be banned for life,” he said.
And McCallan (35), who retired from international cricket last year but continues to play for Waringstown, was particularly disappointed that 18-year-old bowler Mohammad Amir is one of the players who stand accused.
“To see a young lad like Amir, who has the potential to go on and be a cricketing superstar, caught up in it all is very sad,” he said.
McCallan is quick to point out that players are informed about the dangers. “You are warned to look out for these type of approaches and to report anything suspicious to the authorities. It is
all made very clear to the players. Nowadays bets are being taken on all manner of things and many of these are open to manipulation by individual players,” he said.
“In this case the allegation centres around no-balls but I’ve heard of bets on things like the number of players wearing sunglasses. You can see how that kind of thing would be open to manipulation.”
But, on a more upbeat note, McCallan added: “In all my years with Ireland I don’t know of any approaches to players.”