On Thursday morning, Baljit Singh Joban, who runs a cricket coaching centre in Delhi, woke up to the news that his son Sobers Joban was being shown in a purported undercover video released by The Sun tabloid offering to sell details of “fixed” sessions of the third Ashes Test. The Test began in Perth on Thursday, with Australia leading the five-match series against England 2-0.
A former cricketer who has represented Himachal Pradesh and Delhi at the junior level, Sobers Joban is also purportedly shown boasting that he could get players to send “signals” before rigged overs in an IPL match, and fix “four to five” Australian Big Bash T20 league games.
The video also purportedly shows him bragging about his contacts with cricketers from Australia, Pakistan and South Africa.
Within hours of the video being released, Cricket Australia said it would cooperate with the ICC in investigating its contents. BCCI officials were not available for comment. But in Delhi’s cricket circles, many recalled Sobers Joban as an “average cricketer” whose career came to a halt when questions were raised over the veracity of his certificates, which led to a police case in Himachal.
“My son used to organise matches in Delhi. Maybe he met someone there, how would I know? Now that the ICC is investigating the case, let’s wait. If he has done something wrong, let them hang him… I asked him this morning about the incident and he said he had not done anything wrong. He’s a grown-up, I can’t advise him,” says Baljit Singh, 62, who runs the Lal Bahadur Shastri Coaching Centre in Vikaspuri.
“He was a good player but rarely played after the case. He has not played for the last four years. At one point, he was so depressed that I feared he would commit suicide. Currently, he stays here with me,” says Baljit, who lives in northwest Delhi’s Inderlok. Sobers Joban could not be reached for comment.
The Sun video purportedly shows Joban demanding up to 140,000 pounds for information about which over was to be “fixed” to enable the tabloid’s undercover reporters to bet large amounts of money. Joban’s alleged partner Priyank Saxena, described by The Sun as a bookmaker and businessman, is also part of the video.
“Bowling with full (sleeve) T-shirt is a signal, bowling (about to bowl) and stop is a signal,” Joban can be heard saying in the purported sting video.
The 31-year-old’s social media profile is flooded with pictures from luxurious holiday destinations abroad and clips of him playing in corporate leagues and local matches. “He keeps travelling abroad on holidays to Dubai,” says Baljit Singh. The Sun has claimed that the undercover videos were recorded in Dubai and Delhi.
According to players who have played in tournaments organised by Sobers Joban, they were paid a “decent amount” to participate. He also took teams to tournaments in Bangkok and Hong Kong, one of them said.
Another player, who did not wish to be named, claimed that Sobers once ensured the participation of a current India cricketer in one of the matches of a prize-money tournament. “He knows most of the players in Delhi. But now, I am sure these players wouldn’t want their names linked with his,” said another player.
Sobers Joban was a top-order batsman and represented Himachal Pradesh in U-17, U-19 and U-22 age-group matches before playing for Delhi in the Under-22 category in the 2007-08 season.