It’s not just the international or Indian Premier League (IPL) games that are under surveillance by the Board’s anticorruption unit. This season onwards, all under-14 to under-23 age-group matches too will be monitored.
Wary of corrupt practitioners spreading their tentacles into the domestic set-up, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has sent a directive asking all state units to appoint experts to handle the responsibilities of anti-corruption unit officials for all matches hosted by them. The anti-corruption protocol in place for international games will be applied at all levels.
Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) honorary secretary, Dr Unmesh Khanvilkar, said the MCA had been carrying out the protocol listed by the BCCI in the new anti-corruption drive. “From this season, the BCCI has asked us to appoint people to handle security at all the Board matches to oversee the anti-corruption measures. We have six people doing the ACU duty, turn by turn, at our three grounds,” Khanvilkar told HT.
“They are there to check so that no one without proper credentials gets close to the players.”
“Basically, we have been asked to follow a security protocol in place for international matches. The main thrust is no one apart from those who are with the team in official capacity will be allowed in and around the playing area.”
The photographs and names of all the players, manager, team support staff members, liaison officer, and two service staff boys (for catering, etc) have to be displayed at the entrance of the dressing room.
“In case there is someone called for temporary work, like a plumber, he will be issued a temporary pass by the official in charge of security,” said Khanvilkar.
Explaining the thrust behind tightening security around young players, Neeraj Kumar, former Delhi Police Commissioner, and consultant for the BCCI’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) said: “We conduct anti-corruption programmes regularly. If we do not start with young players then there will be no effect. That is the most impressionable age when they need to be told, what to do in case of a corrupt approach by people who can try to allure them so that they can be compromised later. Grooming means some people may help them get cricket kit or do some favours in the early stage of their careers only to manipulate them once they have established themselves as players.”
Talking about the modus operandi of the fixing and betting mafia, Kumar said cricketers from humble backgrounds could be easy targets.
“Players from poor families could be easy targets. A young player may think that a person who is helping him is doing charity but that could be a trap. So we have to educate them about all this under the anti-corruption education programme at a very early age.”
Till now, there was no check, especially in the junior matches with parents, local coaches and spectators freely hanging around the players’ area. Now, they will have to sit in designated areas. “No relative or personal coaches will be allowed to get in touch with players,” said the MCA official.