Spot Fixing: How deep is the ocean?

The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has banned 5 domestic players namely TP Sudhindra, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav, Abhinav Bali and Shalabh Srivastava for corruption charges. A recent sting operation carried out by India TV showed the above mentioned players guilty of either spot fixing, illegal payments from the franchises or agreeing to switch IPL teams for more money.

TP Sudhindra the leading wicket-taker in the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy, now holds a life ban.

TP Sudhindra has got a life ban which means he won’t be a part of BCCI, ICC or any other associations associated with the BCCI. Sudhindra was found guilty of agreeing to bowl a no-ball & committing the same for INR 50K in a domestic match held in Indore. Shalabh Srivastava gets a 5 year ban as he also was guilty of accepting to bowl a no-ball for INR 10 lakh. But Srivastava didn’t perform the act. Amit Yadav, Mohnish Mishra and Abhinav Bali get 1 year ban resp for loose talks, bringing the game into disrepute as stated by the BCCI`s press release.

All though I agree with the verdict given, I also do feel for the players. Sudhindra`s cricketing career is over. Srivastava`s is also almost over. One cannot expect to make a strong comeback after a ban of 5 years. The other 3 players won’t have that much difficulty compared to Sudhindra & Srivatsa. While the BCCI has taken the correct decision, it cannot pat its back for taking a strict decision & forget the issue. No. By banning players, spot fixing has still not been addressed. The question that arises is, how deep is this “spot fixing” ocean? These were just 5 players. Who were behind these players? Who provoked them? You never know, there still might be some players performing such acts. So this should be the beginning for BCCI. Moreover BCCI itself did not investigate & caught hold of the players. It was done by a news channel after which the BCCI acted.

Match fixing or spot fixing is like a disease. It can’t be removed completely. But yes, it can be prevented to a greater extent. The board needs to find the root cause of this issue. From where does this originate? The players were punished in this case. What about those who offered cash to players, the bookies. We only know the names of the players involved, but we don`t not who the bookies were. Why? Well I guess only BCCI can answer this. Till the time, the bookies are caught and punished, I fear, spot fixing will continue.

In the sting operation, a question was raised over IPL franchises also. There were claims that teams made illegal payments towards players. It also showed a player agreeing to shift teams, if paid more. Now, nothing was said about the IPL teams in the statement given by BCCI. I am not saying that the teams are engaged in such activities. But, there are possibilities. My take is, the board should not spare the teams also. Do a check on teams as well. One can be sure that the system is clean, only if it has been checked at each & every stage. So, the teams also needs to be investigated. It ll be good for the IPL itself. To maintain & raise the stature of the brand IPL, these checks have to be done.

The board also needs to educate the players on such issues. Many a times, the players are from not-so-good family background. So it is easier for bookies to trap them. For few extra & quick bucks, players tend to get trapped. The younger & inexperienced players should be the ones to be educated first. Such as those playing first class cricket, under 19 players, under 16 players. This is the stage where the mindset is still not fully matured. So, proper guidance is required. This can be more effectively implemented at the state level. Now a player usually starts playing at a very young age of, say 12 or 14 or maybe even younger. So if at that age a player is educated properly, things can be a lot easier.

BCCI also needs to do continuous & random investigations on matches. Be it international, domestic, IPL or even under 19 matches. Keep an eye on every single player, every match & every tournament.  Appoint a separate & an efficient anti-corruption body to each & every state. This state anti-corruption unit will be responsible of their state players, educating them & keeping a check on them. They`ll also be taking care of all the matches held in their respective states. Apart from this, the BCCI itself should investigate before & after every tournament. Investigate frequently, investigate strictly. Let there be fear among players that the board will not tolerate any wrong doing. The process of preventing spot/match fixing will surely take time, man power & also a lot of funding. But BCCI, being world`s richest cricketing board, can definitely afford this.

Cricket is a gentlemen`s game & it’s the board`s primary duty to maintain the stature of the game. We as fans want to see pure sport & not a scripted act. For scripted acts, we already have lots of such stuff on television.

To read the full text of BCCI release, click here & to know more about the 5 banned players, click here.

Image courtesy: Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TP_Sudhindra)

Source for BCCI release & player info: ESPN Cricinfo (http://espncricinfo.com)

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