Match Fixing Strikes Again
It was more than 10 years ago that the biggest match fixing scandal was revealed, on 7th April 2000. The Delhi police had managed to get a recording of South African Cronje and Sanjay Chawla, who was a representative of an Indian betting syndicate, apparently fixing an upcoming match. Even though Cronje denied all allegations, he was removed as captain only a few days later. He never admitted to match fixing but claimed he had merely accepted money for forecasting results from a London based bookmaker between: $10,000 to $15,000.
The Cronje chapter was closed when he was banned from coaching or playing cricket for life on 11th October 2000. Though he challenged the court’s decision, his application was rejected and the decision was made final in September 2000. Other match fixing investigations took place the same year in all the major cricketing nations after that incident. From players to umpires, everyone seemed to be involved. South African umpires claimed they had been offered large sums of money to influence certain matches. An inquiry was conducted by the England and Wales Cricket Board into the matter, but the English players were cleared of all allegations. However, Chris Lewis claimed he had been approached by various Indian bookmakers to influence matches, which he had refused.
The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation also conducted its own investigation into the matter, which resulted in the raid of some top Indian cricketers and even the national coach, by the Income tax officials. There were further claims, this time by the Sri Lankans, saying they had also been approached by Indian bookmakers offering money for any useful information and match fixing. The players, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha and Sanath Jayasuriya, all apparently refused. The Australians took this very seriously and went a step ahead, they hired an independent investigator to look into the allegations of match fixing and bribery. The players were innocent, except for Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, who had been giving out pitch and weather information.
Towards the end of 2000, on 31st October, many big names in cricket were named by the Central Bureau of Investigation and some of them banned. Among them were Brian Lara, Alec Stewart, Mohammad Azharuddin, Martin Crowe and Saleem Malik. Former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin was found guilty and handed down a life ban from cricket, teammates Ajay Jadeja, Manoj Prabhakar and Sharma were also found guilt, but were lucky to get away with a few years ban.
There was also a long inquiry into the Pakistan Cricket team, in which Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman were found guilty and handed life bans. It was advised that Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed should not be allowed to lead Pakistan. However six years later, Rehman was reinstated in the official players and it was suggested that the judge had been soft on Wasim Akram. It was assumed that after ten years match fixing had finally died down, but there have been claims that the Pakistani team has been contacted by Indian bookies while in Sri Lanka. However, the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) looked into the issue and dismissed it because of no substance and evidence.
The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Ijaz Butt was asked at a press conference if he believed match fixing had finally come to an end. He spoke of two players who had been proved of match fixing by the International Cricket Council, though he did not name them, he made it clear they were not from the current squad, "If there is any match-fixing allegation you can ask the ICC about them and we did verbally. They communicated the two names to us and showed us incontrovertible proof of it. But I can confirm that the players are not from the current squad. The cases I am referring to are old ones and they didn't happen under our administration.” He also said how match fixing was difficult to detect, "I don't say match-fixing is over or is not happening. I just said that it is very difficult to prove".