November 1, 2000

Nine ex-captains named in match-fixing report

Staff & Agencies

Nine former Test captains were named in a match-fixing report published today.

The Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) report, released by Sports Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa at a packed news conference, named five Indian and nine foreign players and an Indian physiotherapist.

Testimonies from bookmakers and players interviewed by the CBI claim that former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar, Nayan Mongia and Ajay Sharma took money.

The foreign players named include ex-Test captains Alec Stewart, Brian Lara (West Indies), Hansie Cronje (South Africa), Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda De Silva (Sri Lanka), Martin Crowe (New Zealand) and Asif Iqbal and Salim Malik (Pakistan).

Australia's Mark Waugh and former Indian physiotherapist Ali Irani have also been named in the report.

The CBI, however, found no evidence against former Indian captain and coach Kapil Dev, who was accused by team-mate Prabhakar of offering him 25,000 dollars to play badly during a one-day match against Pakistan in Sri Lanka in 1994.

The 162-page report is largely made up of testimony from Indian bookmakers as well as players and does not amount to the levelling of formal charges against any of those named.

Dhindsa said "I have sent a copy of the report to the law ministry, which will decide if we can press charges against the Indian players. I am not certain what will happen about the foreign players."

Dhindsa believes the report's impact on the game should bre beneficial. "I hope, I am certain that no player will indulge in match-fixing, at least for the time being," he said.

The report alleged that the mysterious Indian bookmaker "John", who paid Australian Test stars Mark Waugh and Shane Warne for providing information, was the same man who bribed Cronje. It claims bookmaker Mukesh Gupta used the alias while dealing with international players.

The CBI said Gupta had told their investigators that he had paid 20,000 dollars to Waugh for weather, team and pitch information during a one-day series in Sri Lanka in 1994.

But the report does not say how much Warne was paid. Both Waugh and Warne admitted last year to taking money from the person they identified only as "John," which led to a fine by the Australian Cricket Board.

Cronje told the South African King commission earlier this year that Gupta had been introduced to him by Azharuddin during the series in India in 1996.

The CBI report says Gupta admitted paying $40,000 dollars to Cronje on the third day of the Kanpur Test to ensure a "South African loss and as an investment for future."

Gupta also claimed that Sri Lankan veterans Ranatunga and De Silva helped him fix an Indian victory in the Lucknow Test in 1994, for which De Silva was paid $15,000.

Gupta also says he paid Lara $40,000 to under-perform in two one-day games during the tour of India in 1995.

Crowe and Stewart of England were named by Gupta as having taken 20,000 dollars and 5,000 pounds respectively for pitch, weather and team information. But Gupta stressed both players refused his offers to fix matches.

He also said Dean Jones of Australia turned down an offer of $40,000 to provide information and fix matches.

The most serious indictment is of Azharuddin, who the report says confessed to fixing games with the help of colleagues Jadeja and Mongia, while Sharma and Irani acted as the conduits with bookmakers.

The report claims Jadeja provided an "assessment of matches" and passed on information to another bookmaker, Uttam Chand. Gupta claimed Jadeja had "offered his services" for fixing matches and received money from him.

The report says Prabhakar, who first blew the whistle on the scandal in 1997, was close to bookmakers both while playing and after retirement. It also claims evidence of Prabhakar under-performing, passing on information and introducing foreign players to Gupta and other bookmakers.