Slapgate and another Kambli disclosure

Originally published in the Mirror Click here

Given my prophetic powers, if betting were allowed in India, I could make a fortune on two predictions.

1. Another fixing scandal is around the corner
2. Nobody will ever slap the ICC president

Prediction 1: Another fixing scandal is around the corner
Vinod Kambli has shocked us again. Not by his look this time, but by what he recently disclosed. Kambli feels the 1996 world cup semi-final match between India and Sri Lanka was fixed.

Noooo! Who’d have thought that? So what if it was played in the 90’s match fixing era, or if proven match fixers like Azhar, Jadeja, and Mongia were playing in it, or if crores were riding on that match, the thought that there was something amiss about that match never crossed our minds.

But the most unsurprising part of the ‘Kambli disclosure’ has been the BCCI’s reaction to it. “He is mad. He doesn’t know what he is saying. Matter close!” is the BCCI message, loud and clear. There’s no enquiry, no talking to players who played that match, no explanation from Kambli, no quoting of previous investigation reports. Nothing.

In his recently published memoirs, Outlook editor Vinod Mehta reveals that the then BCCI President Madhavrao Scindia was aware of Indian players fixing matches back in 1993. Mumbai top cop Rakesh Maria had intercepted telephone conversations between bookies and top Indian cricketers in 1994. Anirudhha Bahal had started investigating match-fixing in early 1997, the year Pradeep Magazine unraveled the bookie-cricketer nexus. Everyone knew, except the BCCI. Or, so they would like us believe.

The time bomb finally exploded in our faces in 2000.

In a world changing at supersonic speed, it’s heartening to see that the BCCI has remained unchanged. They continue to deal with situations exactly like in the 90’s.

Recently, Goa captain Swapnil Asnodkar offered a draw in a match they could have won. He was initially banned for two matches by the Goa Cricket Association, which was lifted soon after his apologized. The BCCI isn’t investigating the matter any further.

Earlier in the week, speaking with me on Internet radio station Pitch Invasion, Pradeep Magazine said that match-fixing murmurs have resurfaced with the advent of the IPL. He feels that young players getting sucked into the IPL glamour world are especially vulnerable to completely unregulated agents whose credentials and sources of money are unknown and suspect. Even Ajay Sharma, he recounted, first came in contact with bookie MK Gupta when he was 15, when Gupta shoved a 100 rupee note in Sharma’s pocket after the latter had scored a century in a DDCA club game.

Given that the decibel level of these murmurs is fast reaching the levels of the mid 1990s, and that the BCCI is being BCCI, I predict another major fixing scandal to hit us in the near future. And this time, the sport may not survive the jolt.

Prediction 2: Nobody will ever slap the ICC president
Oops!

Late News:
Harvinder Singh, whose palm came in contact with Mr. Pawar’s cheek, has caught the attention of the Indian selectors. “From what we have seen, he has a natural ability to find the sweet spot of the bat. He can solve our No. 6 problem in Australia,” one selector said. “Did you notice how he was pointing his knife at Mr. Pawar? This boy is definitely used to lifting his bat after scoring centuries,” another selector added while stroking his chin.

However, the incident has caused some grief to Virender Sehwag. He is ruing that he couldn’t paste a Sehwag International School sticker on the knife beforehand.

You can hear the Fake IPL Player’s live match commentary during match hours on www.pitch-invasion.in

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