Betting, match-fixing charges 'unjustified'

Published : Apr 29, 2000 00:00 IST

The following are excerpts from the report of the Y.V. Chandrachud Committee into allegations (levelled by former Test player Manoj Prabhakar) of betting and match-fixing involving top players. The report, which was submitted to the Board of Contr ol for Cricket in India on November 17, 1997, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on April 20, 2000. It incorporates details of testimonies by several past and present players, and Justice Chandrachud's conclusions thereon.

Manoj Prabhakar: I cannot disclose the names of team-mates or of any other person involved in offering the bribe to me for losing... because if I do so, my life will be in danger. I was given a threat to that effect by persons who offered me a bri be. I am also afraid that I will be sued or prosecuted for defamation if I disclose the names. I have no evidence to prove my statements... The prosecution or the suit will ruin me... These are the reasons why, initially, I did not speak out for three ye ars and why, now, I cannot disclose the names of the culprits.

Sachin Tendulkar: I do not believe that matches are fixed or can be fixed... Within my knowledge, no match has ever been fixed. I never got the feeling that any of my team-mates deliberately played a bad shot to get out. Speaking for myself, I... decide to take an occasional risk which works most of the times but fails occasionally. A batsman who can deliberately get out would indeed be a super technician. He will use his expertise for playing well rather than for getting out.

The statements made by Manoj Prabhakar have no foundation. He has made a specific allegation that in the India-Pakistan match which was played in Sri Lanka in the Singer Cup series in 1994, a team-mate had offered him Rs.25 lakhs to play badly. If Manoj had the courage to say this, he should have had the courage to name the player.

Mohammed Azharuddin: I do not think that any match can be fixed... It is true that I dress well. I also like to live in a good style. I have a house in Hyderabad and a flat in Bombay. My accounts are quite clear. The tax authorities are the best j udges of that.

Nayan Mongia: We earn about Rs. 40 lakhs a year officially from the BCCI. In addition, we make quite some money in other lawful ways as in advertisements. There is no need to look beyond it. The team meets very often, we are together for long hour s, we discuss our strategy but never, never, is there even a whisper of fixing a match or of betting.

Ajay Jadeja: Fixing a match requires a great amount of homogeneity which is not to be found in a pronounced manner in our team...

I believe that people bet on cricket. But a player can make far more money by playing well and winning a match than by playing badly and losing a match...

I do not think that in today's Indian team, there is any player who bets on the game. It is true that at one time, friends used to have access to the players' enclosure and sometimes they used to speak on mobile phones. Now mobiles are not allowed after we leave our hotel. No friends are now allowed in the players' enclosure, much less in the dressing room.

Sunil Gavaskar: I think that it is impossible to fix a match. In my fairly long experience... I have never known that any match was fixed. You cannot fix a match by buying over a couple of players.

Some people are firing shots in a dark room to hit someone. But there is no one in the room. So the shots only damage the room. That room is Indian cricket...

Anyway, if Manoj Prabhakar had a story up his sleeve, he could have approached his captain, vice-captain, coach or team manager, which he never did. I do not believe his story.

Kapil Dev: In my entire career as a player, I was never approached by anyone for match-fixing. I guess that there is large betting on cricket, but the evil of betting can be dealt with only by the police. Today there is so much cricket that there is much betting also. Those who lose their bets are the first to blame the players for playing bad deliberately.

Fixing a match does not mean fixing all the players in the team. It is possible to approach a couple of star players and fix a match... But in my experience no match was fixed.

I am of the opinion that the Board should set up a private agency to find out the assets of players. That will give some clue whether players lay bets or agree to fix matches.

Ajit Wadekar: During my long term as a manager and even a longer term as a Test player, I never suspected that any player was involved in betting. But, as a manager, I felt that the priorities of the players were all wrong. They attended too many parties and mixed with too many outsiders just to keep their own allowances intact. Their attention is not all focussed on the game of cricket...

The episode of offer of Rs. 25 lakhs narrated by Manoj Prabhakar has no foundation in fact. I was the manager of the team at that time. But he did not tell me a word about it.

Sanjay Manjrekar: The statements made by Manoj Prabhakar are wholly untrue... It is well known that matches have been won by tail-enders oftentimes... That makes match-fixing difficult to believe.

Sandeep Patil: I have seen one of the leading players in the Indian team talking on the mobile phone right through the tour for long periods like 20 minutes from the balcony of the Lords dressing room. I wrote to the Board that players should not be allowed to take mobile phones with them once they leave the hotel. My suggestion was readily accepted. I had also complained to Mr. Jag Mohan Dalmiya that I suspected that two persons, one of them a player and the other closely connected with him, wer e leaking important information to the press. I was also unable to understand why Dr. Ali Irani was allowed to attend the team meetings on the eve of the match or at any time.

I have experienced that the press knew the composition of the team before the team was officially declared.

D.V. Subba Rao: I was the manager of the Indian team which toured West Indies from February to May 1997... My experience belies the allegation of match-fixing in Indian cricket.

Sunil Dev (manager of the Indian team on the tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe in 1996-97): Betting on cricket takes place heavily in India. It has been there for about ten years. It has assumed a large proportion since the introduction of one-day games. There is heavier betting on one-day matches because they are result-oriented. I cannot identify any particular player who bets on cricket but I am fairly certain that members of the team do lay a bet and one can only bet to lose. It is easy to ge t run out or hit a lofted shot. Coaches can detect a deliberate under-performance and so can students of the game. We may have lost some matches because some of our players laid bets to lose.

Matches can be and are fixed but they can be fixed only for losing, not for winning...

The Board cannot do anything about disproportionate assets of the players. But I have a feeling that one or two players have acquired disproportionate assets.

Justice Chandrachud's findings: During the pendency of this enquiry, reports appeared in a newspaper, in September 1997, to the effect that the Howrah police had arrested two leading bookies, Om Prakash Dhanuka and Basant Kumar Dujari. These repor ts said that several incriminating documents were seized from the residence of those persons and that, the newspaper had acquired information showing that "the scandal might involve big names in the game". The Howrah Superintendent of Police contacted me and told me over the telephone that the Calcutta police had passed on the necessary information to the Bombay police.

Immediately thereafter, I got in touch with one of the top police officers in Bombay. He told me over the telephone that a large amount of betting on cricket takes place in Bombay. I requested him to verify the report in Outlook magazine regarding a police officer who... possessed taped evidence on the involvement of players in betting and fixing matches. A week or two later, the officer told me that... no such police officer could be identified. I was also informed... that further investigation has not been fruitful...

Several newspaper articles, reports and quite a few writings were forwarded to me by well-meaning journalists and individuals... Almost everyone believes that there is a large amount of betting on cricket in India. Some people also believe that Indian pl ayers are involved in betting. No one, however, has furnished to me any information about the involvement of any particular Indian player or players in betting or in match fixing...

I find it difficult to accept any of the statements made by Manoj Prabhakar. First and foremost, there appears to be no plausible reason why he slept over such important episodes, for six years in one case and for three years in the other...

Surely, if an Indian team member approached Manoj Prabhakar with such a highly objectionable offer, the first thing which should have occurred to him was to report the matter forthwith to the manager or the coach or the captain or the vice-captain or any other member of the team in whom he had confidence. He did nothing of the kind...

The fundamental objection of Manoj to disclosing the names of persons who offered him bribes or asked him to play below his form is that such a disclosure will spell danger to his life. He said in his statement before me that he was warned that his life will be in danger if he disclosed the names. I pleaded with him that he may disclose the names to me in confidence and that I will not mention those names in my report, much less that he had disclosed those names to me. Faced with this situation, he chan ged his stance, an adroit player that he is, and said he is afraid that he will be sued or prosecuted if he disclosed the names. With my humble experience at the Bar and on the Bench, I told him how unfounded this fear was. But he stuck to his crease for concealing the names. This, indeed, is an easy exercise. Make any unfounded allegations you like against team-mates, officials and others and then try to get away with it by saying that the names of the culprits cannot be disclosed because there is dang er to life or the fear of a litigation.

I have no hesitation in rejecting the allegations made by Manoj Prabhakar. They are imaginary and unrealistic...

Taking all relevant circumstances and the broad probabilities of the case into account, particularly the Indian conditions of which I may be assumed to be intimately aware, I accept without hesitation the statements of Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharudd in, Nayan Mongia, Ajay Jadeja, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Chandu Borde, Sandeep Patil, D.V. Subba Rao, Dr. Ali Irani, Makarand Wainganakar, Balasaheb J. Pandit, R. Mohan, S.K. Shyam and Pradeep Vijaykar.

So far as the other persons whose statements were recorded by me are concerned, who are mostly journalists, even they have not been able to identify any particular player or players in the Indian team as being parties to match fixing or who bet on cricke t. These journalists, undoubtedly respectable and unmotivated, have drawn their own inferences on the general situation which now obtains in the game of cricket. All of those inferences are not unjustified because I am also inclined to believe that a lar ge amount of betting takes place on cricket in India...

Insofar as the involvement of the journalists in betting or match-fixing is concerned, there is equally no credible evidence to justify their implication...

The data before me does not show that any Indian player, official or journalist has ever taken part in fixing a match or that any of them lays bets on cricket for the purpose of match-fixing so as to lose a match. There is, undoubtedly, large-scale betti ng on cricket but that is a law and order problem. Betting, like drinking, is a common human weakness since the beginning of the world. There are copious references to those infirmities of human nature in all classics of the world. One cannot, therefore, rule out the possibility that some Indian players may be laying the flutter of a bet. But it is less than just to conclude that they lay bets for losing a match. Such a charge lacks substance and is unjustified.

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