County news May 27, 2011

Police investigate exposed Shankar

George Dobell
27

Worcestershire have released batsman Adrian Shankar after barely two weeks with the club - and passed his registration documents to the police after it emerged there was more to the departure than a simple change of mind.

The background of Shankar, who represented Worcestershire in the CB40 and County Championship last week, and whose deal was terminated without further comment on Thursday, has started to unravel. It has emerged he is actually three years older than he told the county and talked his way into a two-year contract through a mixture of bluff and bravado.

Worcestershire only signed Shankar on May 10. In the press release that announced this, the club stated that Shankar was 26 years old and had just returned from a prolific winter in Sri Lanka. It also stated that he was in demand from several other counties.

None of it is true. Shankar is actually 29 and, while he may have played some cricket in Sri Lanka, it was not at first-class or an equivalent level.

"Adrian Shankar was signed by Worcestershire CCC on the 10th May after agreeing terms," said the club in a subsequent statement. "It quickly became evident that documents provided in order to satisfy the club's obligations to the England and Wales Cricket Board were unacceptable. This documentation has now been passed to West Mercia Police for investigation and no further comment will be made by the club while the investigation is taking place."

Shankar left Bedford School (he played in the same team as Alastair Cook) after his A Levels in 2000, made his second XI debut in 1999 (for Nottinghamshire) and his first-class debut in 2002. He's subsequently played second XI cricket for Sussex, Worcestershire, Lancashire and Middlesex.

Were the details he gave Worcestershire correct, it would have meant he made his second team debut aged just 14. But when Shankar registered at Cambridge and Bedford, he gave his date of birth as May 1982. Only much later did it change to May 1985.

It seems he produced identification proving that he was born in 1985, but he has explained his past by suggesting he might have been the youngest Cambridge University captain in history. Until yesterday, even the Cambridge University Cricket website (www.cucc.net) carried that version of events. Meanwhile, a little research proved that several of the players he was supposed to have played against in Sri Lanka were actually playing elsewhere on the same days.

Shankar has also said that his career progression has been held-up by an 18-month bout of glandular fever, that he played tennis to national standard as a junior and that he was in the Arsenal academy at the start of Arsene Wenger's tenure.

On the field Shankar is, at best, an ordinary player. After a decade in the game, he had a first-class average of just 19 and has passed 50 only once in 21 innings. He made 143 in the Varsity Match of 2002 (as a 17-year-old, if you believe his version of events) but, as Chris Scott, the Cambridge UCCE coach, said: "The bowling was unbelievably bad. He was a poor player and there's no way I would have recommended him."

Oddly, however, when Shankar signed for Lancashire, the Cambridge coach was quoted in a press release referring to him as one of the finest young players the side had seen since John Crawley. "I phoned Lancashire and made it clear that I'd never said anything of the sort," Scott said. "No-one at Worcestershire or Lancashire asked my opinion before they signed him." Instead of smelling a rat, however, Lancashire simply removed the offending paragraph.

Does any of this matter? Is it just an example of a determined man refusing to give up on his dream?

Perhaps. But Shankar was also taking another man's place in the Worcestershire team. And, by claiming to be 26, Shankar slipped in under the threshold to qualify for the young player incentives handed out by the ECB to first-class counties. He therefore gave himself an unfair advantage in the fight for a place in the Worcestershire team. His swift release was no surprise.

The episode also raises questions about Worcestershire. It seems incredible that no-one at the club thought to check Shankar's story. Five minutes spent on the web would have been enough to raise suspicions; ten minutes on the phone would have confirmed them.

Instead, however, Worcestershire contented themselves with a photocopy of a passport and took Shankar's word for his former achievements. They even threw Shankar straight into their first team - as an opening batsman - without even taking a look at him in a Second XI game (though he did play for their second team in 2003). He was out for a third-ball duck against Middlesex and, batting in the middle-order in the Championship against Durham, was unbeaten on 10 when injury ended his innings.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • catsa on May 28, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    this is funny as, cause it make English county look like complete fools.

  • on May 28, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    only if he was Frank Abagnale Jr !

  • Biggus on May 28, 2011, 1:43 GMT

    Too funny! I see a stellar career in law awating this fellow. There are plenty of dodgy clients out there who will need a dodgy lawyer.

  • bladder on May 27, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    Despite occasional worthwhile scores for other teams, including 104 for Beds., something didn't feel right about the registration of Shankar. Initially, I was pleased that a journeyman 2nd XI cricketer finally got his chance but his claims amount to fraud (he should know that -ECB could also challenge him). Doubts regarding his age were previously raised on county forums (see Middlesex). Years ago Worcestershire were known as 'Foster-shire' now it's plain 'Impostershire'. Lancashire were at fault also. Words of comfort, at least he retired in discomfort but unbeaten (double figures no less) and I'm sure Arsene Wenger rated him. Sean (aka J Depp).

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    I noticed it was odd when I saw his name on the scoresheet and clicked on his cricinfo information - wow, I thought, they must be desperate. However, to give the man credit, he did score a century in a first-class match, and the opposing attack did include Jamie Dalrymple who later played for England. Still, why did they put him in the first team without seeing if he was in form, or acclimatized, or anything? Even if he was telling the truth, they must have been desperate. How can they have thought counties were fighting over him when he had played for several county 2nd elevens without obvious success?

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    Absolutely crazy, when Worcestershire signed him, their official website listed him as 29, after a one look on cricinfo it said he was 29, at the time I put it down to a misprint. All that took was 30 seconds. Rhodes needs to leave.

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    Did wonder months ago. He played for Bedfordshire in List A cricket in 2005, yet claimed to be 26, 3 years earlier he played first-class for Cambridge Uni, making him 17. Unless you're amazingly gifted, in the UK students don't go to Uni until they turn 18. 17 when he made his first-class debut for the University should have run alarm bells.

  • Barryadger on May 27, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    I think some of the comments about his being a terrible Cricketer are misguided. For instance he scored 78 for Lancashire 2nd Xl v Surrey 2nd Xl in the 2009 2nd Xl County Championship final. Whilst in my opinion not good enough to play County 1's in Division 1, he is far from being a terrible Cricketer. Also Chris Scott is an idiot. The terrible bowler who bowled 52 overs in the innings was Jamie Dalrymple. Maybe not a world beater, but a more than handy off break bowler.

  • ruester on May 27, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    As a Worcestershire fan living in China, listening to every match through the internet I am just depressed the direction the club is going. We are getting found out big style in the First Division. What was Steve Rhodes involvement in this? He has been at the club for years, surely he would of remembered Shanker from his second XI days? Whats going on WCCC!

  • on May 27, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    On another note...its unlikely he is Sri Lankan. I am sri-lankan and i do not recognize that surname. It sounds Indian to me. But his surname is probably made up to. He probably thought Shankar sounded good in the scorebook.

  • catsa on May 28, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    this is funny as, cause it make English county look like complete fools.

  • on May 28, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    only if he was Frank Abagnale Jr !

  • Biggus on May 28, 2011, 1:43 GMT

    Too funny! I see a stellar career in law awating this fellow. There are plenty of dodgy clients out there who will need a dodgy lawyer.

  • bladder on May 27, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    Despite occasional worthwhile scores for other teams, including 104 for Beds., something didn't feel right about the registration of Shankar. Initially, I was pleased that a journeyman 2nd XI cricketer finally got his chance but his claims amount to fraud (he should know that -ECB could also challenge him). Doubts regarding his age were previously raised on county forums (see Middlesex). Years ago Worcestershire were known as 'Foster-shire' now it's plain 'Impostershire'. Lancashire were at fault also. Words of comfort, at least he retired in discomfort but unbeaten (double figures no less) and I'm sure Arsene Wenger rated him. Sean (aka J Depp).

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    I noticed it was odd when I saw his name on the scoresheet and clicked on his cricinfo information - wow, I thought, they must be desperate. However, to give the man credit, he did score a century in a first-class match, and the opposing attack did include Jamie Dalrymple who later played for England. Still, why did they put him in the first team without seeing if he was in form, or acclimatized, or anything? Even if he was telling the truth, they must have been desperate. How can they have thought counties were fighting over him when he had played for several county 2nd elevens without obvious success?

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:37 GMT

    Absolutely crazy, when Worcestershire signed him, their official website listed him as 29, after a one look on cricinfo it said he was 29, at the time I put it down to a misprint. All that took was 30 seconds. Rhodes needs to leave.

  • on May 27, 2011, 18:27 GMT

    Did wonder months ago. He played for Bedfordshire in List A cricket in 2005, yet claimed to be 26, 3 years earlier he played first-class for Cambridge Uni, making him 17. Unless you're amazingly gifted, in the UK students don't go to Uni until they turn 18. 17 when he made his first-class debut for the University should have run alarm bells.

  • Barryadger on May 27, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    I think some of the comments about his being a terrible Cricketer are misguided. For instance he scored 78 for Lancashire 2nd Xl v Surrey 2nd Xl in the 2009 2nd Xl County Championship final. Whilst in my opinion not good enough to play County 1's in Division 1, he is far from being a terrible Cricketer. Also Chris Scott is an idiot. The terrible bowler who bowled 52 overs in the innings was Jamie Dalrymple. Maybe not a world beater, but a more than handy off break bowler.

  • ruester on May 27, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    As a Worcestershire fan living in China, listening to every match through the internet I am just depressed the direction the club is going. We are getting found out big style in the First Division. What was Steve Rhodes involvement in this? He has been at the club for years, surely he would of remembered Shanker from his second XI days? Whats going on WCCC!

  • on May 27, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    On another note...its unlikely he is Sri Lankan. I am sri-lankan and i do not recognize that surname. It sounds Indian to me. But his surname is probably made up to. He probably thought Shankar sounded good in the scorebook.

  • on May 27, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    This is a good example of impersonation through social engineering which involves flattery and con. All of this could have been avoided by background checks and verification of Shankar's integrity. Worcs should have watched him play. Anyone with cricket knowledge will know a good player from a bad one. By the sounds of it worcs are so lacking in common sense, even i could con my way into the team by making grandiose claims. Unfortunately this type of impersonation also extends into medical and even other types of businesses. It does go on a lot.Made of qualifications...even bought ones from the USA

  • on May 27, 2011, 10:29 GMT

    Shankar outed as a fraud! Anyone else remember Ali Dea doing this for Southampton?

  • Emperor_Selassie on May 27, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    Wow, I wen't to school with this guy, you blagger!!

  • on May 27, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    It is Worcestershire folks. With all the organizational skills of Corporal Jones from "Dad's Army". Admin wise they are a joke, and have been for many years. Having to replay a one day game against Gloucestershire for fielding an ineligable player (Kabir Ali). "Losing" Shoaib Aktar a few hours before a one day game against the same team (he took 8 wickets after he could be bothered to come back to the ground). Now they have a team with 7 players no-one has heard of and expect their fans to pay to watch a team full of 2nd team players and diddler like this guy. Releasing every decent player thay had at the end of 2009 with one hand while spending a fortune on ground development with the other. Loveley Hotel Newton - Sorry no-one wants to watch your geriatrics and schoolkids play though Against that, it's well known that Basil D'oleveira is at least 4 years older than he claimed to be when Arlott bought him over, and he played for England..so this isn't anything new.

  • on May 27, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    So someone at Worcs is getting the sack then I guess?

  • george204 on May 27, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    You have to wonder what Shankar himself was thinking. He wasn't/isn't good enough to play at this level - what did he think was going to happen when he got onto the field? Sounds as if the (not so) young man hadn't really thought things through...

  • Lees_Legends on May 27, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    This guy should work for MI6 or CIA

  • on May 27, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    Funny, good try shankar! I didn't think it was that easy to get a contract these days lol

  • ROLAYH on May 27, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    if you hire a servant or driver you check his or her background... This is very stupid of the county to blindly believe all his stories...

  • on May 27, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    wow this is shocking but wonder how Worcestershire got into this without doing necessary background check

  • on May 27, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    I didn't know counties have such an easy entry procedure for their top-level teams. I am a captain for a small club team in Australia. I have many players from India playing for me, they are 'OK' players but not even close to what they had mentioned at first. Most of them lied at first. Some mentioned that they have played for state teams in India, few even mentioned county teams in England and some even mentioned playing for Indian U19. Recently, a guy mentioned playing for Pakistan U19 in 2009. His abilities weren't justifying his claims by far so I checked his name on Cricinfo record but I couldn't find him ; his explanation was 'They must've forgotten publishing my name'.

  • InsideHedge on May 27, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    He did play for Worcs 2nd XI according to this article. So, Worcs should have been able to check their own records. But I suspect, like most private orgs around the world, they don't have very good past records. Most companies are negligent with archiving.

    Some of his claims are amusing. Smart of him to claim that he had a prolific winter in SL, I bet it's very difficult to check FC records in SL. But surely, they could have called up a Lanka contact. Heck, they could have posted a query here and some of us would have got back to them. You'd be amazed how much we know! lol.

    He must have had some ability else he'd be exposed at the nets. But fancy getting a game for the 1st XI before playing for the 2nds. The story is fascinating, he must eat, sleep, drink cricket to forgo his law career - or is his law degree madeup too?

    I love my cricket, I think I'm gonna call up Yorkshire in the morning. I'm also distantly related to Wilfred Rhodes.

  • royalblue on May 27, 2011, 1:34 GMT

    I think he is not from sri lanka.he was not born in sri lanka.

  • on May 27, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    as someone who has experience of age group cricket in India, this is quite common and is one of the reasons why india regularly does well at the under 19 level, in the age group tournaments in India between the states, you will have majority of the players playing are over the age limit. I am quite surprised of something like this happening at the country circuit.

  • Angad11 on May 26, 2011, 22:32 GMT

    Wow Nice. Way to go SL.........

  • Finn92 on May 26, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    What a strange story, I can't believe he has lied his way into a professional sports team. Things like this just shouldn't happen, all involved should really be scrutinised into how they let it occur.

  • Adjuster on May 26, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    Assuming WCCC checked with Lancs as his last employer it would be interesting to know what they were told.

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  • Adjuster on May 26, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    Assuming WCCC checked with Lancs as his last employer it would be interesting to know what they were told.

  • Finn92 on May 26, 2011, 22:30 GMT

    What a strange story, I can't believe he has lied his way into a professional sports team. Things like this just shouldn't happen, all involved should really be scrutinised into how they let it occur.

  • Angad11 on May 26, 2011, 22:32 GMT

    Wow Nice. Way to go SL.........

  • on May 27, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    as someone who has experience of age group cricket in India, this is quite common and is one of the reasons why india regularly does well at the under 19 level, in the age group tournaments in India between the states, you will have majority of the players playing are over the age limit. I am quite surprised of something like this happening at the country circuit.

  • royalblue on May 27, 2011, 1:34 GMT

    I think he is not from sri lanka.he was not born in sri lanka.

  • InsideHedge on May 27, 2011, 2:05 GMT

    He did play for Worcs 2nd XI according to this article. So, Worcs should have been able to check their own records. But I suspect, like most private orgs around the world, they don't have very good past records. Most companies are negligent with archiving.

    Some of his claims are amusing. Smart of him to claim that he had a prolific winter in SL, I bet it's very difficult to check FC records in SL. But surely, they could have called up a Lanka contact. Heck, they could have posted a query here and some of us would have got back to them. You'd be amazed how much we know! lol.

    He must have had some ability else he'd be exposed at the nets. But fancy getting a game for the 1st XI before playing for the 2nds. The story is fascinating, he must eat, sleep, drink cricket to forgo his law career - or is his law degree madeup too?

    I love my cricket, I think I'm gonna call up Yorkshire in the morning. I'm also distantly related to Wilfred Rhodes.

  • on May 27, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    I didn't know counties have such an easy entry procedure for their top-level teams. I am a captain for a small club team in Australia. I have many players from India playing for me, they are 'OK' players but not even close to what they had mentioned at first. Most of them lied at first. Some mentioned that they have played for state teams in India, few even mentioned county teams in England and some even mentioned playing for Indian U19. Recently, a guy mentioned playing for Pakistan U19 in 2009. His abilities weren't justifying his claims by far so I checked his name on Cricinfo record but I couldn't find him ; his explanation was 'They must've forgotten publishing my name'.

  • on May 27, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    wow this is shocking but wonder how Worcestershire got into this without doing necessary background check

  • ROLAYH on May 27, 2011, 4:33 GMT

    if you hire a servant or driver you check his or her background... This is very stupid of the county to blindly believe all his stories...

  • on May 27, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    Funny, good try shankar! I didn't think it was that easy to get a contract these days lol