Allegations of corruption and match-fixing have reared their ugly head once more, with a letter from former IPL chief Lalit Modi sent to David Richardson, Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in October 2013 being made public on Twitter.
The letter alleged that three players from the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings were awarded flats and money up to Rs. 20 Crore (AUD 4.2 million). It was not clear whether they were asked to fix matches or manipulate results of specific games in exchange for the gifts. The three players named were India’s Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, and West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. All three are established international cricketers for their respective countries.
The letter, intriguingly, was not made public by Lalit Modi, despite the former IPL boss having liberally made several confidential disclosures of late. A tweet, instead, by an anonymous Twitter user going by the handle ‘@shyamswami158’ was sent to Lalit Modi’s Twitter account. Modi, whose Twitter following considerably outweighs that of the anonymous user (around 942,000 followers), retweeted the letter, telling ‘@shyamswami158’, “Ask @Icc @Bcci @Ipl why ask me. This is highly confidential. You should not be tweeting this”. Modi’s tweet brought the letter to wider attention; it is not known whether that was Modi’s intention. It would, as mentioned before, appear to be consistent with Modi’s recent outspoken attacks against many holding power within India’s elite, most notably Rahul Gandhi. To fuel further suspicion of insidious forces at play, the anonymous Twitter handle was then deleted. It was the only tweet ever sent from that account.
The ICC removed any doubt about the authenticity of the letter circulating on social media by breaking rank and announcing that the letter in question had indeed been received, and that it had been acted upon.
While the acknowledgement did not explicitly state whether wrongdoing had occurred, BCCI’s Secretary Anurag Thakur believed the silence on the matter from the ICC meant no players had fallen foul of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption code.
“The follow-up is there is nothing in that,” he said. “If they had found something, they would have reported it back to us. If there is nothing from the ICC on it, it has to be a clean chit.”
It is imperative according to the ICC’s code that any player approached with a bribe or asked to manipulate a cricket match has to report the approach to the Ant-Corruption Unit. They are then to deal with the matter privately and confidentially, although high-profile leaks to the press have been made in the past, making a player’s duty rather more difficult, given the apprehension of potential media coverage that might follow if the reports are made public. Failure to report an approach, however, can result in a hefty ban, with Sri Lanka’s Kaushal Loukarachchi currently serving an 18-month ban for this very offence.
One of the players named, Suresh Raina of India, was vehement in his denial of any wrongdoing, going so far as to state he was consulting with his legal team as to whether any action could be taken against Lalit Modi in court. His statement read as follows:
“In the wake of recent media reports about me, I would like to make my fans around the world aware and clear the air that I have always played the game in right spirit and with utmost integrity. I have never been involved in any wrongdoing and all allegations against me are false. Playing cricket is my passion for whichever team I have represented. I’m also figuring out my legal rights to take the right steps ahead in this matter.”
The last year or so has been a turbulent time for the moral health of the game, with Lou Vincent acknowledging in July that he was ‘a cheat’. He alleged having been approached by a senior New Zealand player, widely believed to be Chris Cairns, to manipulate the results of certain games during his stint in the unofficial ICL in 2008, and the English county season in 2011. Cairns was quick and comprehensive to deny all accusations, saying he would fight the perjury charge brought against him in a British court, with the trial likely to take place in October this year.
Mohammad Amir, banned five years ago for his part in accepting money to bowl no-balls in a Test match in London five years ago, is due to return later this year, while three Indian players, including Shantakuram Sreesanth, were banned for life for their involvement in match-fixing at the IPL in 2013. Many people have long held suspicions about the transparency of the IPL, held in cricket-mad India, where the web of bookmakers is more pernicious than anywhere else in the world of cricket.
It might be a clean chit for now, but as experience from the past shows, there may well be a lot more to write about this story than is known just yet.