TNPL comes under match-fixing cloud as racketeers approach some cricketers
CHENNAI/MUMBAI: The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) has suddenly become the hotbed of controversies in Indian cricket. While reports emerged on Monday that bookies had allegedly taken control of one of its teams, investigators said they stumbled upon clues of a matchfixing racket while investigating the suicide of former Indian cricketer V B Chandradsekhar on the day of the final last month.
Police sources, however, made it clear that the deceased player had nothing to do with the racket. “There’s nothing to link VB with fixing. While probing his death, we recorded some important facts and passed them on to our colleagues in Mumbai and Delhi,” a senior police officer said.
The police also confirmed that the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) officials received several anonymous letters about the betting scam which prompted the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) of the BCCI to conduct a detailed preliminary probe into the issue. “There were a few names that were being circulated in a closed Whatsapp group which made us look into the case,” the officer added.
The ACU, too, confirmed that certain players were approached, but said that none of the team owners were being investigated. “No players or team owners are being investigated. There were certain players who were approached and they reported it to us. We’re trying to find out who these people are. The fact that the players have reported about being approached doesn’t mean that there’s a probe against them,” ACU chief Ajit Singh told TOI.
PS Raman, the TNPL governing council chairman, confirmed that a complaint against alleged malpractices in the league was brought to their notice during the event. “On receiving the complaint, we immediately formed a three-member committee to enquire into the issue. We are not authorized to divulge the details pertaining to the complaint until the findings of the report have been submitted,” Raman told TOI.
The committee, comprising of a police officer and a senior advocate, was formed after the TNPL-4 final on August 15. “We are expecting the report in the coming weeks,” Raman added.
Another senior TNCA official informed that fixing approaches were reported during the inaugural 2016 event as well and those were promptly dealt with. “Three players reported inappropriate approaches. On investigation, one was found to be a harmless misinterpretation of words while the other two were made with the intent to fix matches. The Anti-Corruption team headed by Ravi Sawani dealt with it accordingly,” said the official.
This year the TNCA and the ACU had conducted classes for the players, support staff and officials involved with all the TNPL teams educating them about the possibility of various illegal approaches. “It was compulsory to attend these classes. We were made aware of how these bookies might lay honey traps and lure us with various incentives. While most of us don’t fall into these traps, there are a few who might get seduced,” said the official.
The source informed that with most matches being played in Dindigul and Tirunelvelli, the surveillance wasn’t too strong and the players were easily accessible. “It’s true that the TNPL is more popular in the districts. But often outsiders walked into players’ dressing-room during practice sessions, which is unthinkable at Chepauk. We had informed the authorities about these incidents and they said they will take necessary measures,” the official said.
TNCA joint secretary RI Palani, though, refuted such claims saying they weren’t made aware of any such incident. “We have not received any complaints officially. I don’t know if the TNPL governing council is aware of such reports too. If they knew of such incidents, I am sure they would have intimated us. However, now that the ACU is saying that the players have been approached, we will certainly want to see those reports,” Palani said.