Money for places November 20, 2003

Bribery scandal rocks Indian cricket

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Abhijit Kale: under scrutiny
© Mid-Day
The controversy sorrounding the alleged bribe offer to Indian selectors from Indian cricket was been rocked by a potentially damaging controversy involving Abhijit Kale, a prolific batsman in domestic cricket. Allegations surfaced this evening that he had offered two Indian selectors Rs 10 Lakh (approx. US$21,860) for a place in the India A side. Kale denied the charge emphatically, but the Maharashtra Cricket Association said that Kale would be barred from turning out for the state until his name was cleared.

Jagmohan Dalmiya, the president of the Indian board, refused either to deny or confirm the allegation, saying that the BCCI's lawyers were studying the matter seriously. "This matter has serious legal ramifications," he told Wisden Cricinfo: "I will make a statement on it tomorrow."

Earlier in the day, NDTV, a news channel, had reported Professor Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's joint secretary, as making the allegations against Kale. The Press Trust of India, a news agency, quoted Shetty as saying: "The player had offered to pay money to a couple of selectors for a place in the India A team. I can assure you that stern action will be taken against the player."

Kale went on television and denied these charges vigorously. Speaking to NDTV, he said, "I am surprised by these allegations. I have played cricket for ten years and have scored 24 first-class centuries, and my record speaks for itself. There is no need for me to do all this." Asked by Zee News if he had offered money to the two selectors concerned, Kiran More and Pranab Roy, Kale said, "I have never spoken to them."

Balasaheb Thorve, the president of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, said that Kale would not be considered for selection again until he was cleared by the BCCI. "We shall not consider a tarnished player for selection," he said. "However, we shall go by whatever the BCCI decides." Maharashtra are scheduled to open their Ranji Trophy season with a plate-group match against Saurashtra at Rajkot on Nov 23. India A's first match against the Sri Lankan tourists is also scheduled to begin on the same day, at Ahmedabad.

Yajurvindra Singh, a former India player and the chairman of selectors of Maharashtra, told Wisden Cricinfo: "I am surprised by this news. I do not think Kale has the resources to offer this kind of a bribe."

Abhijit Kale started out as a prolific batsman in Mumbai's age-group teams, but shifted to Maharashta where he soon became their leading batsman. After a couple of prolific Ranji seasons he made his way into the Indian set-up, but was discarded after a solitary one-day international, in which he scored 10.