ICC President Sharad Pawar has plenty of housekeeping to do, says Shantanu Guha Ray
MINUTES AFTER the match-fixing scandal broke, a visibly disturbed ICC president Sharad Pawar had a detailed telephonic conversation with Malcolm Fry, the head of the Marylebone Cricket Club that owns Lord’s. Pawar wanted a first-hand report and got a detailed response from Fry, the most important among them being how Pakistan skipper Salman Butt tried to hide behind a façade of cash being advanced to him by a prospective Asian advertiser. What Butt could not explain to Scotland Yard was why the payment was not in pounds if the assignment was for a brand to be publicised in the UK.
Pawar had reasons to be worried. It’s been more than a decade and a half that the ICC has been planning to crack down on corruption in the wake of the Hansie Cronje scandal, but failed repeatedly and, worse, it is now more or less confirmed that the bulk of the money for such fixing was emanating from the Indian subcontinent.
Last week, Pawar was told an interesting story about the roots of match-fixing in Pakistan by a former ESPN-Star Sports employee. In the early 1990s, a top non-banking financial company in Pakistan hired former player Salim Malik as one of its directors and encouraged him to push other players to park their money with the firm. A year later, the company collapsed and the promoters fled to the US, leaving the cricketers in the lurch. And it was then that the players decided to take the low road to riches.
THAT IT continues is not good news for Pawar because he has been told about the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) detailed investigation into the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) and the dubious route of funding of some of the teams. According to sources, Pawar has informed BCCI officials to be careful on investigations into IPL-3 and detect those trying hard to shield the cases from the ED radar. Pawar didn’t want all fingers to point at South Asia, where illegal gambling is widespread and run by criminal syndicates that routinely use violence or buy off politicians.