Down but Not Out: The Brendan Taylor Story

Fitzgerald Munyoro

Whilst putting the finishing touches to the Spiderman comic character, creator Stan Lee thought of a power statement that would fully express the dilemma of an ordinary person that has been saddled with unimaginable power.

The phrase he came up with was perfect.

“With great power comes great responsibility” was the mission statement that would become associated with the web slinging super hero.

However, as time has passed the statement has taken a life of it’s own and outgrown the Spiderman character.

This is because in the real world, power and responsibility are real virtues that ordinary people are faced with every day.

Though men and women in the real world do not fling webs from their wrists and glide from skyscraper to skyscraper¸ they are ordinary people who have been gifted with exceptional ability in a various areas of life.

Sports is such a field and sadly, a lot of these skilled sportsmen have found power and responsibility a difficult act to juggle.

Names such as track and field athlete Marion Jones, Ben Johnson,former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and tennis star Nikolai Davydenko are a few that come to mind.

Once universally admired sportspersons who were swallowed by the vices of corruption, cheating and greed.

Sadly, the dark cloud of shadow dealings in sports is once again hovering over the Zimbabwe national cricket team. Caught in a maze of blackmail, drug use and match fixing is former Zimbabwean wicket keeper, batsman par excellence and captain Brendan Taylor.

In January, Taylor broke the internet when he released a 3-page confessional on Twitter that detailed how a cocaine-fueled night with some potential business partners at an Indian hotel was an elaborate blackmail scheme to set him up to fix matches for them.

This is an indictment which he vehemently refuses and swears that he has never deliberately compromised a performance in his career.

However, when faced with the choice to report immediately to authorities or assess the risk levels posed by the businessmen to him and his family, Taylor chose the latter and only reported the incident four months later.

This is a decision he will live to regret as the International Cricket Council has penalized him for what would appear to be withholding vital information that would weed out the bane of match fixing in cricket.

Beyond that, Taylor also hinted that he might have ongoing drug related problems.

In light of all this, the former Chevrons captain has been slapped with a multi-year ban from all forms of cricket.

However, Taylor might have lost cricket but he has won life.

More times than often, wrongdoers in match fixing scandals rarely voluntarily come forward with information.

In August 2010, a scandal was exposed that centered on three members of Pakistan’s national cricket team, who were convicted of taking bribes from a bookmaker cum sports agent, Mazhar Majeed, to deliberately bowl no-balls at certain pre-arranged moments during the Test.

Investigations by News of The World exposed a videotape of Mazhar Majeed accepting money and informing the reporters that Pakistani fast bowlers Asif and Amir would deliberately bowl no-balls at specific points during the game.

This information could be used by gamblers to place bets with inside information. This practice has come to be known as spot fixing.

In 2013, the T20 global showpiece, the Indian Premier League was hit with a massive spot fixing scandal after New Delhi police received information that 3 Royal Rajastan players Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan were working in cahoots with gambling lynchpins Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel.

To bring it closer home, Zimbabwe witnessed the fall from grace of former captain Heath Streak who was handed an eight-year ban from all forms of cricket after he had been found guilty of breaching 5 codes of the ICC’s anti-corruption code.

Disgraced..Former Chevrons captain Heath Streak

Streak was adjudged to have disclosed information that could be used for betting purposes, failed to declare a gift from a potential corrupter and obstructed an ongoing investigation.

The string of offences are alleged to have been committed during Streak’s coaching spells in charge of the Zimbabwe’s  men’s national team and in various T20 leagues across the world in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan across 2017 and 2018.

These are just but a few of the corruption cases that have brought the gentlemen’s game into disrepute.

The overarching theme in all of them is that the perpetrators were incorrigible, most of them only co-operated with investigators when it became clear that evidence of wrong doing was overwhelming.

When this is juxtaposed with Brendan Taylor’s case, differences are clear evident.

He is one of the very few sportspersons who has not been caught but voluntarily submitted and assisted investigators with information that might at least deal with a cancer that has tainted the gentleman’s game.

As such, instead of being vilified, he must be looked at as a fallen hero who is not on a dark path but is already writing his redemption story.

More so, Taylor has said that has said that he will enter himself into a drug rehabilitation institute to deal with his substance abuse problems.

If anything, by sacrificing himself Taylor has made a statement for many other silent athletes trapped in similar predicaments.

Taylor has displayed for all and sundry that doing the right thing does not have an expiry date.

When all is said and done, hope remains that there might still be another innings in store for the fallen captain.

He is down but certainly not out.

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