Three arrested for fixing

2013-05-17 00:00

CRICKET has been tarnished once more with the arrest of three players in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on charges of spot-fixing.

The tournament has its own army of outspoken critics who say it is detrimental to the game.

According to reports, Delhi police arrested Rajasthan Royals players Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila yesterday.

India’s cricket board (BCCI) immediately suspended the players pending further investigation.

The board has promised harsher punishment should the players be found guilty.

Sreesanth has 27 Tests and 53 one-day internationals to his name, but a history of on-field antics has seen him followed by trouble since his Test debut against England, in India, in 2006.

He has not played for India since 2011 and was involved in controversy in an earlier edition of the IPL when he hit team-mate Harbhajan Singh.

BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said the board had “zero tolerance” for corruption at any level of the game and offered full co-operation to the Delhi police and authorities investigating the matter.

The spot-fixing charge follows a much publicised trial in London in 2011 when Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were jailed and banned for five years by the ICC for their part in a scandal during the Test match against England at Lord’s in 2010, when no-balls were blatantly bowled.

While spot-fixing may not affect the outcome of a game, it involves manipulation of incidents within a match.

In this instance, according to Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar, the three bowlers accepted money to concede a pre-determined number of runs in three different IPL matches.

Kumar maintains Sreesanth accepted four million Indian rupees (R680 500) to concede 13 or more runs in his second over of a match played on May 9.

The police chief said Sreesanth had signalled his intent to the bookmaker by tucking a towel in his waistband, giving the bookie enough time to indulge in “heavy betting”.

Said Kumar: “Sreesanth bowled the first over without the towel. Then, when he added the towel, which was a signal, for his second over he gave the bookies time to indulge in betting by warming up and stretching. His over then went for 13 runs.”

Eleven bookies have also been arrested. While more bookies are being hunted, Kumar has ruled out the possibility of more players being arrested or the involvement of any overseas players.

Current South African convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson, who toured India as a player and was one of the outspoken players vehemently against the then captain Hansie Cronje’s suggestion to throw a match, was unaware of the arrest of the three players, but spoke out strongly on what this did for the game.

“One can only say it’s sad for the game and tarnishes what should be a fair contest between sides. No matter how often it goes on, sooner or later it comes out in the wash,” Hudson told The Witness yesterday.

“It should be a simple formula of keeping the game genuine, appreciating the unexpected can happen naturally, without any catalyst from the players and others.

“It leaves matters hanging in the air and has cricket followers around the world questioning what is real.”

There is no doubt India is a betting-mad nation and this will, in all probability, not be the last the world hears of cricket betting shenanigans. However, legal gambling is confined only to horse racing and the casino, the latter allowed in only a few states.

Commissioner Kumar added he believed there were overseas connections to the latest happenings, stating the police had proof of the underworld being involved.

Jagdale said his board used the services of the ICC’s corruption wing to educate and monitor players and support staff in an attempt to prevent corruption in the game.

“It is unfortunate that despite providing the best the game can offer, players still get involved in corrupt activities,” he said.

It is believed illegal syndicates thrive in such conditions with bets on the IPL running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hudson added that he was comfortable in the knowledge that cricket was clean in South Africa, saying: “On a national level, I back myself to say that the calibre of players we have play for their passion, pride and respect for the game.

“They are the right players, the genuine article who play fair and hard, taking the good moments with the bad and dealing with them as a team and in an honest manner.

“They are not in it for the money, but for the pride of representing their country. They have established an era that I hope will be everlasting.”

KwaZulu-Natal Cricket CEO Jesse Chelin was unaware of the players being arrested and declined to comment, saying the matter was an issue to be dealt with by the authorities in India.

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