The glamorous worlds of cricket and Bollywood are mixing in more ways than one — scripting a potboiler that's threatening the game all over again.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to investigate allegations that Indian bookmakers, with the help of a Bollywood actor, are luring cricketers into throwing games — the IPL, English county championship matches as well as other international fixtures, the Sunday Times reported.
The ICC is aware of the activities of the actor, who has not been identified for legal reasons. Four players have reported the Bollywood honeytrap, according to an investigation by the London newspaper.
The paper carried a picture of the actor, with the face blurred. Wearing a green sequin bikini, she strikes a pose that could have come straight out of a Bollywood item number.
“Attractive girls are the ideal choice to cosy up to players and to persuade them to work for bookmakers,” an unnamed bookie was quoted saying. “Players are always surrounded by fans and groupies so nobody suspects a thing when they walk in and out of players’ hotel bedrooms.”
When reached for reactions, the Indian board refused to comment. The ICC probe will be based on what alleged bookies in Gurgaon told the Sunday Times’ undercover reporters.
Posing as bookies, they spoke to a Vicky Seth, described as "an influential Delhi bookmaker", and another "bookie", Monubhai.
The two boasted of routinely fixing Tests and Twenty20 games in the IPL, which begins its fifth season April 4, and Bangladesh Premier League that held its inaugural competition in February.
Batsmen were being offered typically £44,000 (Rs 35lakh) for slow scoring, £50,000 (Rs 40 lakh) for bowlers who concede runs and as much as £750,000 (Rs 6 crore) to players or officials who can guarantee the outcome of a match, the newspaper said.
“Any match that is televised is good for us, which is why English county cricket is a good new market,” Seth was quoted as saying. “They are low-profile matches and nobody monitors them.” Monubhai claimed to have worked with players from most of the major cricketing nations. The only country not named was Australia.
“I was invited to strike a deal with some New Zealanders but didn’t go. The IPL starts on April 4 then everyone will be doing it (match-fixing),” he told the paper.
The investigation was done by the same reporter who exposed spot-fixing in the 2010 England-Pakistan Test series that led to three Pakistani cricketers being jailed in the UK.
“We will launch an inquiry into these serious allegations,” an ICC spokesman said.