Smaller tournaments soft targets as bookies exploit loopholes in BCCI’s arrangements
CHENNAI: The 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal should have been an awakening of sorts for the BCCI. Sadly, no lesson seems to have been learnt from that fiasco. Several domestic T20 leagues continue to be vulnerable to such threats, as found by an internal report of the BCCI a couple of years back, which even asked the board to ban such leagues.
While the TNPL is the latest to hit the headlines for alleged corrupt practices, the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) is also believed to be raising alarms. Even the Mumbai T20 League was in the news following reports that the BCCI’s Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) had received complaints.
Launched in 2016, the TNPL is a prominent event run by a reputed state unit and has garnered good television ratings over the years. While it grew in popularity, the TNCA hired former ICC ACSU head Ravi Sawani and his team to monitor proceedings in the league. For two seasons, on Sawani’s insistence, each of the eight teams had an integrity officer 24x7.
However, prior to this season the BCCI decided that its own ACU will be in charge of all domestic leagues. In place of eight, the BCCI sent four officials who managed the entire league. They were paid between Rs 20-30 lakh for their services.
With a majority of matches held in Dindigul and Tirunelveli, bookies are believed to have found easy access to players at their team hotels, in the absence of integrity officers. A former player who lent his voice on television in TNPL even identified a bookie at one of the team hotels. With the league consisting of several players hailing from the districts, the bookies zeroed in on them as vulnerable targets.
Sawani, who had overseen the TNPL for two seasons, said it is important for domestic leagues to have dedicated officials for each team. “We had one officer travelling with the team because trust is very important. When players are familiar with a face, they will be willing to share details.
“We had one session every day where the players were asked if any random girl or man had approached them either through text messages or directly in person. They knew talking to unknown individuals might put them in a spot,” Sawani said.
While the BCCI has abandoned this practice, the ICC incidentally adopted the method followed by Sawani for the recently held World Cup.