Late last month, some age-group Delhi players were being imparted vital lessons on steering clear of fixing trouble. The man educating them was Ravi Sawani, chief of BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU).
This was a BCCI programme to educate players in the wake of the IPL spot-fixing scandal. On Friday, it was Sawani’s report that led to life bans for S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan.
However, handing out punishment and imparting lessons is all that Sawani’s unit, set up in January, can do. Or for that matter the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, put in place years ago. Neither have been able to apprehend any culprits. The joke goes that the ACU officials’ job is to keep players away from the media.
And while the BCCI punishes players promptly, little action is taken when officials are involved, as has been the case with the board president’s son-in-law, M Gurunath, and Rajasthan Royals co-owner, Raj Kundra. In such situations, even life bans may not act as a deterrent.
Any concrete action to curb fixing has been taken only by law enforcement agencies -- Delhi Police exposed match-fixing in 2000, the Marlon Samuels case in 2007 and the IPL scandal --- or through media sting like last year. While lot of money is spent in the name of preventing corruption, the repeated unearthing of scandals involving illegal bookies only raises doubts whether cricket administrators are serious about tackling corruption in the game.
“Their hands are tied. The ACUs have no policing powers, no legal powers, no authority to tap phone calls or even investigate. At best, they can ensure nobody meets suspicious people during a match,” says IS Bindra, former BCCI president and current Punjab cricket chief.
Sawani pleads helplessness. “What we can do is preventive vigilance. Beyond that, suppose someone does a deal in some remote area, it will be really tough to keep an eye on that.”