The episode surrounding Umar Akmal and the subsequent dealing of the issue by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has brought to light two deep-rooted problems. The first is the re-affirmation that Pakistani cricketers have not yet fully understood or abide by the anti-corruption code. The second and perhaps more problematic is both the PCB’s and the ICC’s approach to anti-corruption law, which remains inconsistent and patchy at best.

Umar Akmal was charged with articles of the anti-corruption code dealing with non-reporting of corrupt practices or approaches and was awarded a three-year ban by the PCB disciplinary committee. On appeal, Umar Akmal’s sentence has been reduced by half. Historically, the way cricket regulatory bodies deal with such issues has varied. From just barring Wasim Akram from future leadership positions to a life ban on Saleem Malik, the PCB has sent mixed messages about its tolerance for corrupt practices. Players have felt they can get away with such incidents either entirely or with bare-minimum penalties. While there has been some progress recently on ensuring such practices are rooted out, the PCB needs to adopt a more consistent approach.

Akmal’s case also highlights the fact that there is either limited understanding or internalisation on behalf of the cricketers when it comes to dealing with anti-corruption and match-fixing. While Akmal was charged with being involved in corrupt practices, the fact that he failed to report the incident to PCB demonstrates either his lack of understanding of the obligations under the code of conduct or a disregard for the rules—the blame for both lies on the player’s own shoulders.

Nevertheless, to tackle the issue systematically, consistent application of the code, with codified penalties for each offence would go a long way in ensuring that corruption or accidental lapses are rooted out. To avoid errors in judgement, a comprehensive attempt at educating the players, starting from the junior levels, should also become a primary focus.