CORRUPTION EXPERT Murali Krishnan insists the hugely-popular DLF Indian Premier League is wide open to bribery and corruption, after maintaining the laws the flagship Twenty20 competition currently has in place are ‘practically ineffective’ writes Iain Green.
Since cricket’s darkest year at the turn of the millennium practically destroyed the sport, when South African captain Hansie Cronje was implicated for his part in a match-fixing scandal with bookmaker Mukesh Gupta, cricket’s authorities have worked hard, and in tandem, to gradually re-build the sports’ reputation for honesty and integrity.
But following Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer’s somewhat suspicious death at the last Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, the debate surrounding corruption, match-fixing and irregular betting patterns once again reared its ugly heads on the grandest stage of them all.
And after the IPL’s successful maiden tournament last year in which the competition made a huge splash across the globe, the eight-team competition began to be recognised, in the opinion of Krishnan, as being a “world leader in the betting market, with punters and bookmakers falling over themselves to get involved.”
While Krishnan is unerring in his belief that cricket’s dark days of pre-ordaining a result are entirely over, he feels unless organisers ramp up their security measures, then the IPL may become bat-and-ball’s new Sharjah, where a hot-bed of huge corruptive forces were actively in place.
“The policing needs major radicalisation and improvement, as we have a situation at present where mobile communication devices are allowed into the changing rooms, and where the rankings system does not exist, and these are two elements that are firmly in place at every other major tournament around the world to prevent corruption,” said Krishnan. “I can’t envisage a scenario anymore where a whole match result is fixed before the teams even enter the field of play, but lower-level corruption is creeping back into the game, as players know the batting orders and maybe choose to bowl a wide in the first over.”
But Krishnan recognises the signs, and concurs with the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association Chief Executive, Tim May’s, analysis that “the IPL is at the mercy of the highest risk of corruption, as little things in such short matches can have a massive bearing on the result,” and Krishnan thinks he has seen the first steps to controversy within India’s largest league.
“I’ve seen some worrying signs develop lately, in particular Mohammed Asif’s drugs controversy in the inaugural IPL tournament, which led to him being detained in Dubai for 19 days and questioned about opium,” he stated. “Bookmakers have already confirmed there are corruptive influences within the IPL, and there have been cases already where allegations have not been pursued.”
“In fact, an inter-state racket has just been closed down, after a group in Bangalore, with links to London, were arrested following a wager of $2million, and it’s unknown whether these men have links with the IPL officials. Also, we had a suspect fixture too, between Kolkata Knight Riders and Bangalore Royal Challengers.”
With so much financial gain to be made from selling your soul to a bookmaker, Krishnan fears for India’s young generation of cricketers, and wonders whether the IPL may hit stormy waters in the not-too-distant-future.
“The up-and-coming Indian players are now coming under increasing pressure and scrutiny, as the finance within the IPL is so major,” affirmed Krishan. “There’s no need for these bookmakers to involve highly-decorated players with lots to lose, they simply latch onto the lesser players who can still affect the game in the critical period of the last five overs.”
He continued: “I’m pretty confident the IPL is heading towards an extremely interesting place, with several people beginning to feel it is losing its charm thanks to its wham-bam style. However, I also feel sure that unless a player stands up to say he’s been approached about illegal fixing, then it may well continue to develop at a rapid pace.”