CM Gautam, former Karnataka player, was arrested for his alleged links with corruption in the KPL © BCCL
The recent arrests of Goa wicketkeeper CM Gautam and Mizoram captain Abrar Kazi – both former Karnataka players – by the Central Crime Branch on charges of match-fixing in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) has brought the focus firmly on whether the BCCI is indeed serious at curbing corruption in cricket.
“There are two points here. When the Bangalore police files its chargesheet, its investigation will be complete. We’ll take a copy of that chargesheet. Secondly, there are some people against whom we have also launched our inquiry. We’re taking their statements and giving them the opportunity to defend themselves. After that, we’ll propose the necessary action to the Board,” BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Chief Ajit Singh told TOI on Friday.
Does ‘those people’ include players too? “They’re ‘participants.’ It’s a wide definition, which includes, players and support staff, or anyone. However, we can’t give you the names until we complete the inquiry,” he said. This inquiry, he revealed, was based on allegation of fixing in KPL.
“We’re in touch with the police. If we’ve something, we pass it on to them because they’ve the legal authority to take care of a much wider spectrum. We can only take action against the ‘participants,’ but they can do that against the others, like the bookies, too. We can’t act against the bookies,” he explained.
As per the BCCI protocol, Ajit Singh is supposed to meet BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, and give him all the anti-corruption reports of the past two years.
How does the BCCI prevent itself from the threat of rampant match-fixing in all these state association-run leagues? “From this year, it’s the BCCI who will take care of their anti-corruption needs. We’re happy that we’ve got leads and are conducting inquiries. We’re pleased that the Bangalore police is also being proactive on this front. The police has far more powers than us. They can arrest people who are out of our ambit,” he said.
“I feel that after the action that has been taken, the impact will be far-reaching. Maybe, the next edition of KPL will be cleaner than what it was,” he added.
The BCCI’s previous anti-corruption chief, Neeraj Kumar, says that he had warned that the growth of these state leagues could lead to more chances of the scourge of fixing creeping into the game. “I had warned the Board many times on this count. The owners of teams can be dubious, and can strike a deal with the players to do ‘certain things’ for them in lieu of a favour. The BCCI needs to screen the owners of these teams thoroughly. You can’t relax the norms to become a team owner,” said Neeraj Kumar.
The anti-corruption department, of course, has to be highly vigilant. “We got 20 people arrested in connection with fixing in the (now defunct) Rajputana League in Rajasthan. A few people from Punjab were threatening players to fix games in KPL, we sorted that out,” revealed Kumar.
“After this KPL incident coming to light, the BCCI must seriously think about the future of these state association-conducted T20 leagues. The credentials of the team owners in these leagues have been exposed after this incident. The cricketers will fall victim to the wrong kind of people coming into the game,” felt former Board cricket development manager Ratnakar Shetty, who has worked closely with the BCCI’s anti-corruption department in the past.