April 29, 2000

Players, officials call for probe to be time bound

Not unexpectedly, the overall reaction to the Government's decision to order a CBI inquiry into the match fixing allegations in Indian cricket has been unanimously favourable. From players to administrators to the public, everyone feels that it is a step in the right direction. In fact the cricketers and officials have gone a step further and seem to agree that there should be a time frame for the probe so that there could be an early end to this unholy mess.

ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya set the ball rolling by saying that ``the decision to involve the CBI is most welcome since the agency has got a good image. It is time that we clean up the image of the game.'' He said that he had explained to the government that the image of the game had taken a beating and the public perception was that an inquiry by the CBI would be more authentic and transparent and could perhaps restore the game's glory. He complimented the government's stance that not only should the guilty be punished, but the innocent should also be protected. He appealed to all having information to come forward and assist the investigation.

BCCI president AC Muthiah welcomed the CBI inquiry and termed it a right move for three reasons. First, the inquiry will be thorough and unbiased. Second, for the action that must follow to be effective, the agency must be vested with enough powers and legal sanction. Third, considering the fact that all sorts of accusations are being circulated, often with international ramifications, a CBI inquiry may be able to enlist Interpol support which will be vital. He said the probe was in keeping with the Board's demand and hoped Dhindsa would fix a time frame.

BCCI secretary JY Lele too called for an early completion to the probe. ``We will give full co-operation to the agency. The earlier the probe is completed, the better,'' he said.

Former Indian captain Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi said a CBI probe was the right move. ``It is good that an agency which has experience in investigating something with international ramifications has been given the job. I don't think the BCCI or the ICC can carry out such an investigation.''

Another former Indian captain Polly Umrigar, also a former BCCI executive secretary said ``let it get cleared once and for all by a proper investigating agency. It is a good move especially for the fans who will be happy knowing that a proper agency is doing the job. Let them offer protection to people who are making these allegations and let us see how many come forward to revaeal names and offer proof.''

Indian team coach Kapil Dev also hailed the decision. ``Doodh ka doodh, pani ka pani ho jayega (the grain will be separated from the chaff)'' he said.

Former Indian all rounder Manoj Prabhakar, who first raised allegations of match fixing, said the probe will do good for the future of the game and assured full co-operation in the investigation. Praising Dhindsa, Prabhakar said ``the Sports Minister had promised he was going to do something when I met him and he has fulfilled it.'' Asked whether he had revealed the name of the player who he claimed tried to bribe him, Prabhakar would only say ``I told him whatever I should tell him.'' Asked whether he would co-operate with the CBI probe, Prabhakar said ``if they need my help, I am willing to give all the details I have got. I am ready to help people who are willing to clean the system.''

Former Indian captain Ajit Wadekar, while welcoming the decision, was confident ``something concrete'' would come out and also agreed that there should be a time frame for the probe to be completed.