The spot-fixing controversy that's engulfed the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 has given rise to a fair bit of anger among former cricketers and commentators. S Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, all three players with Rajasthan Royals in IPL VI, were picked up by Delhi Police in Mumbai on Thursday (May 16) and have since been in police custody.
Speaking to a television channel, Sourav Ganguly said, "I am disappointed and angry at what has happened. If found guilty, they should be banned for life. This type of corruption is up to the player, no one can force you."
Among former Indian captains who expressed their dismay at the turn of events was Kapil Dev. "We are all to blame for what has happened," he said on TV. "These three cricketers might have been caught, but we are all to blame for the way things have been."
Sunil Gavaskar, for his part, defended the IPL, saying that the action of the three Rajasthan cricketers was shameful. "IPL is a great stage for the youngsters and everybody to showcase their skills and get good rewards for that and doing such a shameful thing is something that doesn't make much sense."
But Lalit Modi, the suspended former chairman of the IPL, blamed the Board of Control for Cricket in India squarely for the goings-on, claiming that he had warned IPL officials about such possibilities. "I had sent information of fixing in IPL to the authorities, but it was ignored," said Modi. "Bookies try hard to lure players and there are a few bad fish who will take the bait. But we have lots of players who are honest and ethical."
In his newspaper column, Ravi Shastri nixed Modi's suggestions. "Zero tolerance is the buzz word among the franchises and the IPL's Governing Council. I, being part of the Governing Council, know fully well how integrity is completely non-negotiable, be it in spirit or action," wrote Shastri.
Ed Hawkins, whose book 'Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy' attempted to unearth details about corruption in world cricket, said he was not surprised by the incident. "The tournament provides a wealth of corruption opportunities for bookmakers and punters," was Hawkins's reaction. "It is a relative orgy and by the time the trophy is lifted, billions would have been wagered in the illegal market.
"It is subtle and simple. Players being asked to do 'small' favours on the pitch for potentially great rewards. It is vital that the authorities (ACSU or Delhi police) do not make the mistake of believing money was made on this fix by corruptors betting on a certain number of runs to be scored off a certain over. These fixes were designed to manipulate a market known as a bracket.
"This a betting market which asks gamblers to guess the number of runs scored in, usually, the first six overs. This important point was made in Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy. It is my understanding, however, that the fixes mentioned by Delhi police did not entirely go to plan and I have been told by one bookie that 'not a lot of money was made'. Indeed, he said one player had to give back some of the money paid to him for the 'work'."
There have been suggestions that such incidents keep taking place because young cricketers are not mentored. But Harsha Bhogle, cricket commentator, argued on Twitter, "We've often talked about educating and mentoring. I suspect fear might be a stronger option. (The) fear of very stringent punishment."
However, Ayaz Memon, senior cricket writer, countered Bhogle's suggestion, saying, "What's scary is that the fate of (Salman) Butt, (Mohammad) Asif and (Mohammad) Aamir is apparently no deterrent for players who want to spot fix."