A day after The Indian Express reported rampant corruption in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) officials revealed several instances of players being approached for fixing games. Among those contacted by potential match-fixers include a present India woman cricketer, eight players from TNPL, two from the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) and one from the Mumbai T20 League, making this the busiest year ever for ACU officials.
“Players from the Indian women’s team, TNPL, KPL, Mumbai League have informed us about someone approaching them. These unwanted elements want a platform and they keep approaching players. The Indian woman player who was approached was not even playing at the time, she was undergoing rehab,” BCCI ACU chief Ajit Singh told The Indian Express. “This year, the cases of approaches have increased because of the additional responsibility we have taken of looking after various T20 leagues organised by the state associations.”
On Monday, the ACU acted on the complaint by the woman cricketer by filing a First Information Report (FIR) against two individuals— Jitendra Kothari and Rakesh Bafna — at the Ashok Nagar Police station in Bengaluru.
Singh said the woman cricketer was undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru when Kothari approached her, saying he wanted to be her manager. “He (Kothari) hails from Gurgaon and was approaching the player, asking her to appoint him as her manager. That he will get a sponsor and a good branding deal for her. He even sent an agreement to the player asking her to sign but the girl was playing so she didn’t sign,” Singh said.
“The man kept persisting and later introduced her to Bafna. She found it all suspicious and recorded their conversation with her. They wanted her to work as per their script and in return, she was to earn handsome money.”
The development came to light in February this year before the Indian women’s team was scheduled to play a One-Day International series against England as part of International Cricket Council (ICC)’s World Championship.
Singh said that the ICC conducted its inquiry into the matter and so did the BCCI’s ACU. The latter conducted a follow-up as they feared that the Kothari-Bafna duo might approach other players too.
“Players have started to report, we go and take education classes before every season. The youngsters have given a positive response. Until and unless players come and report, we can’t do much,” Singh pointed out.
He explained how these ‘unwanted elements’ had moved abroad to places like Dubai. The BCCI’s ACU wing gave its feedback to the ICC on the new T20 leagues coming up all over the globe. Singh said things are moving in the right direction as they try to keep these entities away from the game.
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When asked whether ICC can rein in or have some control over these leagues conducted around the world, the former Rajasthan DGP stated, “Things have started to work, the Euro League is not happening, the Afghan league is not happening. We have given our feedback to them (ICC) but it’s our view. These leagues are being hosted by the national boards, so on what basis can ICC prevent them?”
Apart from fixing approaches, the ACU also dealt with selection of cricketers in domestic teams.
This inter-state ‘pay and play’ scam came to light when three players complained to the ACU that they were cheated of their money on the promise of getting selected in Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand first-class teams as guest players.
“There have been cases from Arunachal holding its selection trials in Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh). We intervened there too. We disrupted it, some arrests were made there too,” Singh asserted.