Proliferation of various local T20 league have raised eyebrows with regard to corruption, and the proposed four-team tournament in the UAE, which former first-class cricketer Robin Morris seems to be talking about in the Al Jazeera sting operation fits the bill. He talks about bringing non-A-listers for the tournament, whose sole aim would be spot-fixing and betting. The 10-day event was to be organised under the aegis of the Dubai Cricket Council.
“We want total control…players will be like puppets,” Gaurav Rajkumar, Morris’s assistant, is purportedly saying in the sting. Morris is even shown to bring two lesser-known international cricketers and claim that they will do his bidding, and they agree. “I have a set of 30 players who will play what I tell them to do,” boasts Morris.
A player stands to make several times the money they earn by playing according to the rules, that too in 10 days. An international cricketer who wants to be part of the plan can make “40 times more money than his appearance fee.”
BCCI’s anti-corruption watchdog has been on the lookout for such dubious leagues sprouting around the country, and several of these initiatives have been binned after a bit of prodding from the board.
‘When they get Rs 25 lakh, they will fix Pitch…it’s eight years’ salary’
The sting operation alleges that the pitches at Galle for the 2017 Sri Lanka-India Test and the 2016 Sri Lanka-Australia Test were manipulated at the behest of fixers. Al Jazeera claimed that the track for the Sri Lanka-England Test, to be played there later this year, would also be compromised.
According to the sting operation, curators at Galle would fix pitches for big sums of money. “When they get Rs. 25 lakh to doctor the pitches, they will fix …it’s eight years’ salary!” Rajkumar is alleged to have said.
Tharanga Indika, the venue’s assistant manager and groundsman, is shown talking about how it can be done. “All these things must be done before the ICC officials come in,” he says but adds that there are ways to artificially change a pitch even during a Test match. “Like extra pressure on the special brush can damage the pitch,” he says.
Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva, meanwhile, claimed, “[Indika] is not a curator. He was only the assistant manager. He was working on the administrative side and overlooking the staff at the venue.”
Hasan Raza, a man with a dubious record, has another claim to infamy
He was touted as the youngest man to play Test cricket — four years before he could be termed one. But several years after a stop-start international career, he is seen sharing space with Morris, who was talking about fixing T20 tournaments. Both played for Mumbai Champs in the Indian Cricket League, and though Raza is not seen participating in the discussion, his presence in such dubious company itself is ground for suspicion.
The PCB issued a statement saying, “PCB and its Anti Corruption Unit is in the process of reviewing reports regarding the alleged involvement of cricketer Hasan Raza in corrupt conduct. Appropriate action, if any, will be taken after collecting and reviewing all relevant evidence.”
Raza played only seven Tests and 16 ODIs for Pakistan. The last of those games was in 2005. Interestingly, there were doubts about his age and birth certificate. Medical tests done later prompted PCB to withdraw the record claim as his actual age was uncertain.