It is not very often this blog has praised the Morning Star, but todays issue manages to include not just one but two sporting articles of interest.
John Wight uses the recent appearance of former World Middleweight champion James Toney in a mixed martial arts fight against Randy Couture, to argue that boxing needs an age cap to keep washed out, flabby fighters such as Toney from reappearing in the sport. I actually think he is wrong about this - fighters such as Bernard Hopkins and Evander Holyfield are plainly still fit enough to box professionally, despite being well into their 40s - but Wight does write with knowledge and precision.
Secondly Jon Gemmell considers the apparent corruption of Pakistani cricket, as a mere extension of the broader corruption in Pakistani society. When you have a President who is known as 'Mister Ten Percent' and a country where tax collection has proved an impossibility, sport cannot be unaffected. Again there is more that could be said here. The UK media lapped up the pose of Benazir Bhutto as a fighter for democracy, ignoring both her previous record in office, and her own private zoo admidst one of the poorest countries on earth. Why then should her widower raise standards in office?
Gemmell fails to consider the Islamification of Pakistani cricket, and the destabilising influence religion has at times had in the Pakistan dressing room. This has even extended to the Pakistan Cricket Board, who at one point, according to Imran Khan's memoirs, was headed by a man who did not actually like cricket, on the basis that it distracted people from study of the Qu'ran!
Gemmell's closing words however, deserve careful consideration:
"Corruption has to be erased, but as cricket is generally reflective of the society in which it is played, it will take more than a few lectures from well-paid commentators and finger-wagging from the ICC."