Ali Bacher, the former head of Cricket South Africa, is of the opinion that in spite of others of their ilk getting caught, several cricketers are still in touch with the bookmakers. Delhi Police has recently named Hansie Cronje, the deceased ex-captain of South Africa, as one of the accused in the match fixing scam that rocked the entire cricketing world in 2000. Bacher expressed these views while reacting to this particular development. He pointed to the instance of disgraced former Pakistan captain Salman Butt who confessed that he had been in touch with bookies, something that came to the fore in that ill-fated series against England in 2010.
Cronje is the only cricketer who has been implicated in the report. Nicky Boje and Herschelle Gibbs, who were also part of the whole affair way back in 2000, were let off as not sufficient evidence could be found against them. Bacher has welcomed the report saying the fact that bookmakers were being leveled with criminal charges was a matter of great encouragement for the people who loved the game and the players who have managed to stay honest in spite of any lure of easy money.
It may be worth remembering in this context that in 2000 Bacher was the first person to have denied that Cronje and his cohorts were involved in any wrongdoings. This was the first time it came to notice that not all was right with the way cricket was played around the world. He had then stated that the levels of honesty and integrity with which the game was played meant it could not be doubted anyhow. However, he had to go back on his statement only 4 days later when he stated he had been fooled. He also informed the media that CSA had annulled its contract with Cronje after he had given in and confessed that he was indeed involved in the whole scandal.
Bacher’s words are true indeed and can be gauged from the way several Indian cricketers – Sreesanth, Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila – were recently implicated in the whole match fixing affair. Previously, cricketers of the caliber of Mark Waugh, Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels have faced the music for their contacts with bookmakers who mostly pose as fans and well-wishers to either get crucial information from them or get them to do a few things in a match that will help them win a lot of money. In fact Samuels lost a couple of years in his career owing to his contact with a bookie. The monetary rewards are huge indeed and given the fickle nature of a sporting career people with lesser talent are more inclined to participate in it as long as they are not caught.
The authorities can take many steps to stem the rot but the cricketers too have to be careful about who they are dealing with and not provide any sensitive information to anyone they do not know. It has to be a two way process so that cricket does not generate too much attention off the field compared to it.