The confirmation issued by the Indian Premier League that Pakistan (and Delhi Daredevils’) fast bowler Mohammad Asif was indeed the cricketer who tested positive during a random drug test conducted by the World Anti-Drug Agency (WADA) gives another claim to infamy for the IPL, which mostly made news for non-cricketing reasons, starting with Harbhajan Singh‘s Rs 3 crore slap on S. Sreesanth. As it is, Shoaib Akhtar‘s entry into the Calcutta Knightriders team had been preceded by reports that he was carrying an abnormal number of syringes.
Questions: Can performance enhancing drugs enhance the performance of cricketers? Is cricket like athletics? Can a batsman bat better, score faster, or notch up a century or two under the influence of performance enhancing drugs? Can a bowler bowl faster, spin more, or pick up more wickets? Can a fielder dive around and stop unstoppable balls? Given the vagaries of the game, can drugs be used to good effect in Test cricket? Or is Twenty20 cricket, with its shortness, speed and accent on power over short bursts, tailormade for a grand entry of drugs into the gentleman’s game?