The Lodha committee came out with its report yesterday suggesting radical yet necessary changes in the overall functioning of cricket in the country, which included a change in the power structure (hierarchy) of BCCI in order to prevent conflict of interest and fraud. But the Lodha committee didn’t restrict it to just changing the face of the Indian cricketing administration, it also suggested that the BCCI come under RTI and that betting be legalized in India.
While everyone expected a change in the general administration structure of BCCI, very few would have foreseen the committee proposing legalizing betting in the country, something that has always been visualized as a taboo with regard to sport in our country, especially after the scars of the ‘2000’ fixing scandal.
Indians are inherently suspicious. Offer us something fancy and we would question the authenticity of it every day of the week. No matter how much we cry about Test cricket not being very entertaining, give us one close last ball finish and we will leave no time in labeling it as ‘fixed’. Introduce betting and combine it with the scars of the past and you will never stop hearing the phrase ‘match fixing’ in every nook and corner of this country.
If and when this suggestion passes is something that is up to the government, all we can do in the meanwhile is speculate and go down the memory lane. In this article we’ll try and get to know about all the betting realted(or bookie driven) match fixing incidents that have left a dark stain on the sport and the life of the cricketer in question.
So, basically what happens is that players are approached by bookmakers to throw away a particular matches so that these bookies earn a large sum of money, a part of which is given to the player. So, essentially it is this betting industry that fuels match fixing and hence we look at 5 of the biggest betting driven match-fixing controversies in the cricketing world
1) 1999-2000 India-South Africa Match fixing scandal
The India-South Africa series was tipped to be a really exciting one as both sides were trying to build their legacy in international cricket with the help of the cricketing superstars that both these sides had at their disposal. But all the hype around the series went out of the window when close to 5 players were found guilty of associating with bookmakers to underperform during a game in the series. Mohammad Azharuddin was allegedly the biggest suspect for not only having been in touch with the bookies but for also drawing in more players to indulge in match fixing.
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Hanse Cronje denied all allegations related to fixing matches and also denied that he had any connection with the a bookie called Sanjay Chawla. The Indian police found audio tapes of Chawla and Cronje talking and conjuring up a strategy to fix the game between India and South Africa. For this Cronje and Chawla had to take help from other South African players like Nicky Boje and Herschelle Gibbs, but the latter ultimately gave up on the idea of fixing the game by underperforming and went on to score a blistering knock of 74 in 52 balls.
Other Indian players like Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar were also implicated in this ‘dark’ moment for cricket. While Jadeja’s name cropped up along with Azharuddin’s, Manoj Prabahkar had to work hard to make the police’s work easy. His name was nowhere to be seen/heard during the intial phase of this controversy but in his attempt to somehow implicate Kapil Dev with this hideous crime, he directed CBI to investigate into his involvement and despite not being in the initial suspects, he managed to get himself banned due to his own antics!
This was the first time the Indian public was exposed to this huge network of bookies and how they had the power to influence a lot of cricket games. That was when panic spread and that was the birth of the phrase ‘Arey yaar sab fixed hai’ amongst Indian cricket fans.