Days after a purported sting by The Sun tabloid showed two Indians offering to sell details of “fixed” sessions of the Ashes Test in Perth, the BCCI’s anti-corruption chief, Neeraj Kumar, has criticised the board for showing “hardly any interest” in effectively fighting the “menace of corruption in Indian cricket”.
In an email to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, Kumar pulled up the BCCI for what he described as a “cavalier” and “indifferent” approach towards having an adequately equipped Anti-Corruption Security Unit (ACSU).
The former Delhi Police commissioner also alleged that Johri never called for a meeting to discuss the acute staff crunch of the ACSU. In the email, Kumar also accused Johri of not acknowledging any of his mails.
“Not even once can I recall a meeting in which you have chosen to discuss this issue. Not even once have I been asked what the magnitude of the problem is and what needs to be done,” Kumar wrote in the email, which was accessed by The Indian Express.
Kumar’s criticism was in response to an email from Johri, in which the CEO asked the ACSU chief to apprise the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) about The Sun’s sting video, which was purportedly shot in Delhi and Dubai.
The Indians shown in the video were later identified as Sobers Joban, a former Delhi junior cricketer, and Priyank Saxena, who was summoned as a witness when the Mumbai Crime Branch cracked down on an alleged inter-state cricket racket last month.
In the mail, Johri requested Kumar to inform the CoA about the steps taken by the ACSU to “ensure that the remaining India homes (sic) matches and domestic matches are kept out of the shadows of such anti-social elements”.
In his email, Kumar referred to “various presentations” highlighting the issue that he had made before Johri and the CoA on May 20 along with the “clutch of proposals” he’d sent to “augment the strength of the ACSU”.
“In fact, every email sent by me in connection with the ACSU, be it about rationalisation of salaries of my officers, or paying Anshuman (regional integrity manager) his due share out of the ICC T20 World Cup remunerations, or anything else, has remained unacknowledged and unanswered. Therefore, as you would have noticed in the recent months, I have stopped sending such mails. Not known to be a man who gives up easily, I have now decided to forget about them, as I am fully aware that my days in the BCCI are, in any case, numbered,” he wrote.
Kumar referred to how under-staffed the ACSU was to cover the vast number of matches that take place under the BCCI in a year. The three-member team, he wrote, also ends being unable to impart Anti-Corruption Education Programmes (ACEP) to players before the match.
“As I have pointed out in my presentations, over 900 matches take place during the domestic season that include the juniors, seniors, women’s, Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy, Duleep Trophy, CK Nayudu Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy, etc. How is it expected that the ACSU, with a total strength of 3, including me, can cover them, or at least impart ACEP before these matches?” the email stated.
The ACSU chief also claimed that Johri had “brushed aside” his proposal of making new training films to make the ACEP more interesting for the cricketers, citing that “they would cost a lot of money”.
“You said, that BCCI media staff will make those films. Nothing further has happened ever since. The matter has been conveniently forgotten,” he wrote.
On The Sun’s purported sting operation, Kumar wrote that he was “bemused” with the CEO’s “misplaced understanding and appreciation of what has happened”. He insisted that there was no evidence of the two “braggarts” having delivered on their “tall claims” and dismissed the operation as having only “exposed two undesirable people’s braggadocios and nothing more”.
He wrote that Joban and Saxena had been under the ACSU’s watch and were on the list of people that cricketers are advised to stay away from as part of the ACEP.
Kumar then reminded Johri that the “trigger point” of the mess in the BCCI and the subsequent formations of the various committees was the 2013 spot-fixing scandal and takes a dig at how the board has still remained apathetic towards the issue.
“Ironically, the measures to be undertaken for preventing a repeat of such scandals seems to have been forgotten and lost sight of. We have to be woken up to this menace by a sting operation by a London-based tabloid when the signs are all there for us to see if we choose to,” wrote Kumar.
The ACSU chief, who led the way in exposing two of cricket’s major fixing scandals in 2000 and the IPL-related controversy 13 years later, listed out the scams that his team, despite being short-staffed, had uncovered in various private T20 leagues in recent times.
While reiterating the board’s apathy towards the corruption issue on a number of occasions, Kumar’s email also contained an ominous warning.
“Since we pride ourselves in being the leading cricket playing nation it is only imperative that the BCCI has the best ACU to fight corruption in the game. Equally, we should be always conscious of the fact that the biggest scandals in cricket have happened on our soil and they are waiting to happen again anytime soon,” he wrote.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Johri said, “This is an internal issue of the BCCI. I have never encouraged such discussions to go out in public forums as these are delicate matters. We work closely with the ICC ACSU on these matters.” Kumar declined to comment.