No complacency on corruption
The language of cricket
I am forever picking up cushions in my household, glamorous couches with strategically placed splashes of colour is not a look we are able to achieve. You see the cushions have an alternate use, piled high against the coffee table they make for a set of cricket wickets. The rules of the game are complex, a miniature bat is used and a nick behind square is instantly out. Any furniture hit on the full is deemed caught, so too when an unwitting parent is hit walking across “the pitch” (which is a lovely chocolate brown rug). One-hand one-bounce catches make for athletic and dramatic fielding feats and the game atmosphere swings between joy and catastrophe assisted by the IPL blasting away on the TV in the background (other cricket parents will sympathise- there is a never ending string of cricket on Sky TV). Sometimes “umpire decisions” are fiercely contested reaching such a fevered state that third umpire (i.e. parent) intervention occurs, postponing the match while participants are sent to their room.
The majority of cricketers have similar childhood stories. I have seen footage of neighbourhood games of cricket played in the dust in India, ancient leather balls and a tree stump as wickets, batting techniques copied from the greats. This is the real beauty of our game, an international language in itself for those in the know.
However, it is a long way from these make-shift pitches to the corruption and antics that are being played out within International Cricket circles. Perhaps it is a reflection of modern society as Glenn Turner states in an Otago Daily Times article but I think that it is more a reflection of international business and the result of money in sport rather than changing morals.
Cricket, transparency and governance
Cricket is a multi-billion dollar business and as such is open to the challenges businesses and governments face globally. Internationally, more than one trillion dollars is paid in bribes every year (Source: World Bank Institute) often affecting poor and developing countries the most. In New Zealand, levels of corruption are relatively low, we ranked first equal (with Denmark) on the 2013 Corruption Perception Index. Part of the reason for this is we have been isolated from business corruption, living on our small islands at the bottom of the world, but as we do more international trade with countries in Asia and South America and our companies themselves become more multicultural, we must not rest on our laurels or plead ignorance when we find ourselves in muddy waters.
Recently I met with Susan Snively, the Chair of Transparency International New Zealand, a not-for-profit organisation with the mission of promoting transparency, good governance and ethical practices in New Zealand Government and business. They have a free online course available (takes about 90 minutes) that I would recommend to anyone working in business or Government. I am a very trusting person, so for me, doing the course was a good prompt of things to look out for and also a reminder of where I need to place my “stake in the ground”.
This afternoon I fly to China, a country desperately attempting to stamp out corruption under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. It will be a long road for their Government. I am sure it is far easier to keep corruption out of society rather than stamping it out once present. To do this, we need knowledge and a will to maintain our society’s values. According to Phil O'Reilly, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand, New Zealand's high trust society is both a national treasure and an economic asset. In my view, it will only remain that way if we are proactive in learning about how to recognise and deal with corruption and become firm in putting our stakes in the ground. Education is everything.
For me the cricketers embroiled in the current scandal are great fodder for speaking with my own children about the murky grounds of right and wrong and showing, how a seemingly innocuous act of bowling a no-ball can lead to a complex web of lies and deceit… and all for a few dollars. Even better that local hero Brendon McCullum, who no doubt has played many games of “living-room cricket”, is playing his part in stamping out corruption. We need to promote our integrity here in the South in the face of society and business changes, but we mustn’t be complacent.