Under-fire India cricketer Hardik Pandya’s loose talk could make him a target of the match-fixing syndicates known for laying “honey traps”, feels BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry. Pandya, along with teammate KL Rahul, face potential suspension from the BCCI for their controversial comments on women on the chat show ‘Koffee With Karan’.
“…the comments such as the ones that have been made would definitely have painted a large, red target on the back of the players for potential recruiters for the organized syndicates who attempt to indulge in match-fixing across the globe,” Chaudhry wrote in an email after COA member Diana Edulji sought his opinion on the matter.
“The very first caution that the ICC Anti-Corruption officers give in briefing to the players is to beware of situations of honey traps and the comments made on the show make it seem that the players may just be ripe for the plucking,” he added.
While COA chief Vinod Rai has recommended a two-match ban for the players, Anirudh recommended a suspension pending inquiry and a gender sensitisation programme for the errant duo. He also took a dig at BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, who was cleared of sexual harassment charges in the wake of the #MeToo movement but advised to undergo gender sensitisation by an inquiry committee.
“The players must be immediately suspended pending a proper inquiry and must be allowed to join the team (if selected) only once they have gone through a proper sensitisation in addition to serving a ban, if imposed upon them,” he said.
“In any case the entire team and support staff must go through a sensitisation process. The CEO may join them in the sensitisation as well as recommended by Ms. Veena Gowda, advocate,” he said. Anirudh also demanded an investigation into how the two players appeared on an entertainment show.
“…the provisions of the earlier contracts and the practice in place would have required these contracted players to seek permission to appear on the show. Was such a permission sought? Was such a permission granted? If so, by whom?” he asked in his response to Edulji.
In what could be termed a rarity, the treasurer also questioned how BCCI has managed to alienate the sports journalists while allowing players on entertainment shows. “…I question the situation where the sports journalists are kept at bay while access to the players is given to entertainment shows,” he said, referring to the provision of players needing the Board’s approval for routine media interviews.
BCCI acting president CK Khanna also demanded “strict action” against Pandya and Rahul, conforming with the rules and regulations but was non-committal about the quantum of punishment.