The first whiff of sleaze in the game came in 1994-95 when an Indian bookmaker offered money to Australia cricketers Mark Waugh and Shane Warne in exchange for information related to pitch and weather conditions. Inconclusive evidence resulted in the players being let off and the episode fading away from public memory. But this laxity meant that by 2000, fixers had taken over the reins of cricket.
Sadly, even after 13 years, the greed, and the deceit stay lurking in the corners of the game as the indictment today of three Indian Premier League players - S. Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila - in a spot fixing case shows.
Back in 2000, when on 7th April 2000 the Delhi police headed by the commissioner K. K Paul intercepted a call between Sanjay Chawla a bookie and the South African captain and sporting hero Hansie Cronje, it was the beginning of a gale storm that would sweep the very heart of international cricket.
Soon an inquiry was set up and Cronje admitted to match fixing. Cronje in his statement said he was introduced to Mukesh Gupta, a bookie, by the Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Some of the names he revealed during questioning were those of Salim Malik, Ata-ur-Rehman, (from Pakistan) Mohammed Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja (India). Although Manoj Prabhakar attempted to implicate Kapil Dev and few others in the scandal, it boomeranged as he was found guilty.
This death will remain as much a mystery as that of Bob Woolmer’s murder during the 2007 World Cup in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2008 Cronje’s older brother Frans Cronje released a biographical film – Hi Hansie showcasing the life of Hansie. The role of Hansie was played by Frank Rautenback. (See the video).
Salim Malik, Ata-ur-Rehman, Mohammad Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma were all banned from the game for life. Because of inconclusive evidence Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams got away with a 6 months ban from international cricket. (The complete CBI report on the issue)
In 2004 Kenya’s former captain, Maurice Odumbe was banned for five years by the Kenyan Cricket Association, after being found guilty of receiving money from bookmakers and in 2007 West Indian Marlon Samuels was suspected of fixing an India vs West Indies ODI in Nagpur.
With so much scrutiny, match fixing took a backseat for a while and it looked like the scourge had been eliminated. But the cricket world was shocked again in 2010 when a new phrase called spot fixing entered the lexicon.
Spot fixing is more difficult to detect as it involves betting on individual deliveries in a match. Match fixing involved a couple of players and influenced the result of a match whereas spot fixing could be done by an individual at any point and time in a match – for instance Mohammed Amir bowling a huge no ball at Lords in a test versus England. (See the video. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Captain Salman Butt were named in the spot fixing racket. Other than a no ball, players can also fix other trivia — how many players would wear sun glasses, for instance. They also fix the number of times a keeper would take the bails off, who would play at what number or the player who may get injured. Some of these things may have no impact on the result of the match.
In 2010 Mervyn Westfield and Danish Kaneria were accused of spot-fixing during their county stint with Essex. Before the Bangladesh Premier League in 2012, Bangladeshi off spinner Shariful Haqaue was banned for spot fixing in 2012.
A sting operating by India TV in May 2012 resulted in five domestic players (Amit Yadav – Goa and Kings XI Punjab; Mohnish Mishra – Madhaya Pradesh and Pune Warriors; Abhinav Bali - Himachal Pradesh; TP Sudhindra – Madhya Pradesh and Shalabh Srivastava – UP and Kings XI Punjab) suspended from cricket for spot fixing by BCCI.
And now the latest to rock the cricket world is the IPL spot fixing scandal. According to reports, the arrested bookies worked for the D Company and the payments were made through hawala. The cop Badrish Dutta who was investigating the fixing scandal was found dead. Players under scrutiny and arrested so far include S Sreesanth, Ankit Chauhan and Ajit Chandila. Investigations are going on and it is believed there are 12 matches under scrutiny.