May 19, 2013

Anti-corruption efforts need to be proactive

Rather than relying on police investigations or media stings to uncover rot in the game, cricket has to get tough with its own

There was a time when cricket looked upon T20 as a saviour. However, following revelations of another major corruption scandal in the lavish-spending IPL, officials must now be wondering about the wisdom of opening up more fixing avenues to crooks.

Early indications suggest the current investigation will be far reaching, with more players dragged into the net. It'll be interesting to see if some of the cricketers crack and start helping with the investigations by implicating others. This is an area where previous corruption scandals haven't revealed much, but sooner or later players need to become a source of useful information.

For this to happen, they will require some guarantees in order to be rid of their fear of the consequences of being whistle-blowers. This is an awfully large obstacle to overcome.

In a perverse way, cricket's best weapon in the fight against corruption might be the revelation that a really big-name player was involved in a scam. That way the outcry would be so widespread as to galvanise all parties into action against the crooks.

When I first heard the news of the latest scandal, I wasn't shocked. There's so much information available, it's hard not to believe that where there's smoke there's fire. However, I was staggered it occurred on Rahul Dravid's watch. Such is the widespread respect for the Rajasthan Royals captain, not just for his achievements but also for his integrity, it's hard to imagine a player giving anything less than 100% for such a man. The fact that players under Dravid's captaincy allegedly indulged in spot-fixing highlights the magnitude of the problem cricket is facing.

In a game that has suffered previously because of captains being directly involved in corruption, this is one time when you can be sure - as certain as is possible in such a dirty business - the skipper was blameless.

Worryingly, once again cricket, and in particular the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), also appear to have not been put out. Apparently they took no part in the current investigations, and despite a number of arrests and convictions over the years, the game has had very little success in bringing to book any of the villains.

I'm not surprised at this lack of success following an exchange with a member of the ACSU in 2010, which culminated in me responding, "Don't you understand how the corruption works? It's not the players who decide when and where the fraud occurs."

It's frightening to think the ACSU may not fully grasp that once the crooks get their hooks into a player, he has only one way out - the same way you exit the mafia.

The game needs a cricket solution to corruption along with a legal one. If cricket relies solely on proving the guilt of these miscreants in a law court, the problem will never be eradicated and eventually the game will lose all credibility.

The ACSU, with the backing of the officials, has to be more proactive. They need to rattle a few cages and occasionally ignore the Marquess of Queensbury rule book. When they are convinced their suspicions about a person are valid, they should demand cricket plays its part and wields the axe at the selection table. If offenders are permanently omitted it's difficult for lawyers to wage war on the basis of non-selection.

This may sound draconian and drastic but that's the only way cricket is going to win this dirty war. The heavy lifting can't always be left to police investigations, or television and newspapers to produce undercover stings. If cricket doesn't earnestly engage in this battle, it will find itself in an even bigger fix.

Any future fixes may not be right royal ones like this latest scam, but too many more and they won't need to be of that magnitude to tarnish cricket's reputation drastically.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kannan on May 22, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    The cricket administration has never ever taken fixing seriously. A slap on the hand, a period of exile for a while and a backdoor entry at an appropriate time when things quieten down - this has been the approach so far. Of course, the truth and reconciliation commissions too play a part in reconciling the public. The various support groups of the criminal players also gang up, paint sob stories in the media and then brazenly contend that any action should be with the view to reform the criminal rather than longterm punitive action! After all this... Even a player who is discarded, finds favor with the TV channels, or worse, with the politicians! To break the law is as fascinating it appears as teenage rebellion to the teenager.

    Bottom line: Things can be clean only if the right value systems are fostered in cricket, starting with the cricket administration!

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    All around I see that the verdict of guilt has been everyone other than the judiciary ! What right do we have to pronounce someone guilty on hearsay? If eventually it is proven that this was a case of the accused being wrongly pinned with a case, can we collectively do away with the damage inflicted?

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    Great article Ian Chappell. Unfortunately I have had the personal experience dealing with people that have fixed games and conspired to engineer results. One would know that to speak out about particular individuals can be fraught with danger. There has to be shown some dash and reliable investigation in weeding out these destroyers of the game. Amit Singh you are a disgrace. ( arrested Bookie, also opening bowler in Goa Pro League.

  • Nanda Kumar on May 21, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    @McGrorium. While i broadly concur with your views, I am not too sure if everything that should have been done was done in the case of the 4 players who were identified as fixers. While the BCCI appointed an investigator, I do not recall any complaint being filed with the police. So one is not even sure if the evidence was looked into from a potential prosecution point of view. Also while Azhar was exonerated later in the court, he was elected as an MP prior to this decision. So much for our public's awareness. Here was a Captain of the Indian team who was accused of fixing and also banned for the same and we elect him as our law maker. The fact that he was cleared later is no justification. The point that I am making is that BCCI did not even bother to launch a prosecution. The message potential fixers was clear - chances of getting caught is small and even if caught you may be banned but the money stays and there is no conviction. Most fixers will feel this is a win win situation.

  • JAYARAMAN on May 21, 2013, 1:23 GMT

    The main reason for ignoring spot fixing or other accusations comes mainly from the accusers who use terms targetting particular communities, regions etc. Some people had written against even the dress worn by a section of the Indians and unfortunately even leading newspapers publish such pieces. Not one reader could convincingly put forward a doubt citing real situations. Dropping of catch, losing a wicket suddenly etc. are natural to cricket and these may be exploited by fixers.

  • JAYARAMAN on May 21, 2013, 1:15 GMT

    Obviously no one including players will come forward to disclose the various fixing charges. One of the ways, not necessarily the best one, is for the authorities to give complete protection to whistle blowers. Mere verbal accusations without tangible information which cannot be verified, should be ignored. As it appears there may be danger not only to the whistle blower but to those who may proceed with the investigation, total security for all must be ensured. This ia a wishful thinking in India and other readers are requested to suggest enforceable methods.

  • AJay on May 20, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    I concur with Mr Ian Chappel. The ASCU's record of catching anyone is rather poor. It appears to the casual observer ,that BCCI re-acts to situations and somehow has not cuaght wind of how much the reputation of it sport is jeopardised when someone is caught. The ASCU must given the task of cleaning up the sport and tell the general public of the measures it is enacting in order to do so.International Athlectics has done quite a lot satisfy concerns on steroids an other enhancers. What is BCCI doing and why is the ICC not on its back?

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    That's what they said about Hansie, Ian........

  • Amit on May 20, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    Is this not as simple to understand as - Look at the problem and not the solution? Its much harder to implement a solution but you want to make sure you find the right solution. The players involved are playing one of the richest tournaments on the planet and it is difficult to accept that they are wanting for money. The motivation being 'just' money is difficult to digest. The bookies do it for the thrill of money and the quick fix addictions provide. Perhaps some, if not all, players involved in spot fixing also need a dopamine fix? The money adds to the fix? As with every addiction, once you have it, its hard to beat it.

    The money aspect will remain a massive pull for players not in the national frame. But a former test player to be involved??? Begs the question are we all looking at it through the same glasses?

  • ian on May 20, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    I wonder what is written down in the contract that the players sign before they play for their franchise sides. Is there a clause that lays out in considerable detail the penalties that will be incurred for any practice that involves the promotion of third parties' 'interests'? If it can be shown that a player has breached his contract, in addition to the laws that exist in India, then the case for the prosecution is immeasurably strengthened. Furthermore, the captains' & managers' duties should include a responsibility clause re: the guarantee of the integrity of the players involved in the franchise. If a player feels that he's being asked to hoodwink his captain, then he might think twice before having a private conversation with an anonymous 'fan'. And it is obvious that no player should be lodged in a place apart from the rest of his squad. That is asking for trouble as children & irresponsible adults will always do things that they shouldn't when not being supervised. So obvious!

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