Not for king and country alone, any more



I was living with one of my aunts in Bombay when the betting scam first broke round the country. Some months later, I found myself in the thick of the investigation when South Africa captain Hansie Cronje was implicated in another such scam.

I discovered a cop, posted in an innocuous department at the time, who was sitting on a mine of information about cricketers and their alleged deals – he had tapes, transcripts and diaries that detailed names of cricketers as well as those from the underworld who called them to fix matches, the amounts that changed hands and the games that were fixed.

I was both excited (by the story) and disgusted (by the magnitude of the scam involving so many Indian cricketers at the time). At dinner one night, I began to discuss it with my aunt. “Thank God, I have never cared for the game,” I told her. “Or else I would have been quite a shattered person today.”

“Well, I loved the game. And I was shattered long before these racketeers came upon the scene,” she said. “That’s why we don’t watch cricket in my home.”

When I probed further, I was startled by what she told me. My aunt had been a neighbour of yester-years film star I S Johar for years. And the story she told me sent a chill through my bones. As she told it, she was invited to a dinner party hosted by him at his home in Churchgate one day for the West Indies cricket team of the Seventies.

“Betting on cricket actually began that evening,” my aunt said. “They were all drunk and Johar, jut for a lark, decided to place bets on whether India or the West Indies would win the test match the next day.”

She gave me the details of names, captains of the team, etc as well as who was considered the favourite for that match. The betting happened and, according to my aunt, the favourites lost and the team that had seemed so weak won by the skin of their teeth. Of course, Johar and his friends raked in handsome returns. “You know now why I did not cheer that day. I have not bothered about any cricket after that.”

The names of the cricketers involved in that betting were iconic and I was very shocked, disbelieving even. I returned to that cop the next day and related my aunt’s story to him.

“Well, I am not surprised,” he said. “You do today’s cricketers the injustice of thinking they started the match-fixing. Actually fixing cannot happen from the bottom of the chain. It is the people at the top who fix these things and cricketers often go along with it.”

Asked to explain, he said, “No match can be fixed without the coach, the manager, the captain and the physio of the team getting wind of it. So if the match has been fixed, it is often these people who are to blame – either for being silent or for being in on it right from the start.”

Having studied his transcripts, he said he had realised that the cricketers went with the attitude: the guys at the top are making their deals, so why should we not get something out of it, too!

But, said the cop, there were some sterling examples in the Indian team (like Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid) who absolutely refused to be part of any match-fixing. He had them down on tape telling off a bookie. “We play for the country. Not for you.”

When the scam broke in the mid-to-late Nineties, these boys were not quite at the top of the team and, as the cop pointed out to me, they were all the time being harassed by their own top cricketing officials. “What you see of that has nothing to do with their cricket. They are troubled because they refuse to fall in line.”

Eventually, their honesty paid off and both became captains and pulled Indian cricket out of the doldrums.

But as I was told by the Bombay police then, “Indian bookies are afraid of just two teams: England and Australia. These teams immediately report the bookies to their managers and if they don’t the managers are honest enough to catch them out. But every other cricketing team of this world has been corrupted by the bookies.”

Three days later Hansie Cronje admitted to accepting money from bookies for fixing matches and my police source said with great relish, “I told you so!”

He also believed my aunt, for his own investigations had led him to conclude that betting and some mild fixing of matches began in an informal fashion long before the Nineties’ teams were caught up in the act. ” It was mostly friends and relatives of the cricketing team who took and placed bets among their own friends and colleagues. The underworld got into the act much later but probably after they caught on to the fact that cricketers could be corrupted. They just institutionalised what had been happening for some years on a smaller scale.”

I couldn’t but help recall all of that as the latest match-fixing scam that has plagued Pakistan spreads its wings to other countries with allegations surfacing against other reputed players who could be iconic for their own teams.

Those West Indies and Indian cricketers present at I S Johar’s dinner party all those years ago were iconic, too. Yet, they seemed to have got into a betting racket of their own making. Those were idealistic times when one played for king (or president in the Indian context) and country or not at all. In these materialistic times, in a globalised world, do modern-day cricketers, then, stand any chance against temptation?

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  • http://- Rajeev

    Sujata,
    Why don’t you name cricketers who were at IS Johar dinner party?

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Pl scroll down. And may b you may get an answer

    [Reply]

    Rajeev Reply:

    Yes, I read their GUESSES.

    I request you to spill out the names because you are privy to Gossip that you and your aunt shared.

    [Reply]

  • Al

    Yes, Sujata, you should name them. You are a great tresure trove of information! And I can’t stop admiring you.

    [Reply]

    Swaraj Reply:

    Late ninetees we were visited by a B-string Windies team with Malcolm Marshall making his debut. Iconic west indies names were missing and india was favorite to clinch the series. So there was no place was betting unless if you are talking of 1975 tour when the series was stretched to the decider 5th test match at newly opened Wankhede stadium. Anyway why don’t you name the iconic players – Gavaskar, Vishy, Vengsarkar, Farokh Engineer (or Kirmani)…

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thre are some clues in my story. You may easily work out the rest

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Thanks. But like I told Rajeev, someone already seems to have a name

    [Reply]

  • kavi

    It is an inspiring story for those young aspiring cricketers and our youth in general. I am not a big cricket fan and would never have held Ganguly and Dravid in such high esteem had I not read this blog. Look at the respect for them even in the eyes of the cop. In the end they probably still made a lot of money LEGALLY from endorsements and led a loose team into the record books. Their integrity and morals are something that our younger generation needs to be made aware of. Our NATION as a whole is in a state of decay , at least when it comes to National character. CWG and IPL have tainted the image and makes citizens hang their heads in shame due to a few GREEDY people.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Yes, if you check the timelines against everything that cop told me … well, we did start winning matches after Ganguly became captain, didnt we?

    [Reply]

  • Ira williams

    Great shame. “Honesty” the gift of God to men is exchanged for money. Great shame.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    But there are still some honest men left both in cricket and in India

    [Reply]

  • http://tradersFahad,everythingyouhavequotedishistoricallyfactandaccurate.utra.com h mani

    Except Priya and Rajeev no one has any clue what is going on.This drift is going on for centuries,and no one has been able to check it.It has to do with apathy and selfish nature of the majority of populus,rots just don’t happen suddenly,like a apple it takes time for core to get rotten and irretivable.It saddens me deeply when I read history in detail,the masacres in “katlay Aamm”in delhi,Rajastan and Gujarat ,the sacking of Delhi,Mathra,Banarasetcetc and just 250 years ago the sacking of Delhi by Nadir Shah,it is not pigment of imagination of so called Safforon guys,give it just less than 150 years,the poor people of India are facing calamity,the cowards ,weak and the spineless present day political party will embrace green,and than a slavery of 1200 years again,those who don’t read history and learn are going repeat history again and more pain and suffering,YES THE PRESENT CULPRITS WON”T BE ALIVE THAN BUT THEIR HANDY WORK WILL.

    [Reply]

    Harry Reply:

    What the hell are you talking about. This column is about cricket and match fixing. Why don’t you stick to the subject. Take your garbage elsewhere Mr./Ms. Mani

    [Reply]

  • Kushagra

    The West Indies cricketer in question is Sir Gary Sobers who was the captain of touring WI team, a good friend of IS Johar and was heavily into betting.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Looks like more people than just my aunt were at that party!

    [Reply]

  • Kushagra

    It was the 1966-67 WI tour of India, led by Gary Sobers when this party in Mumbai took place. At that time foreign team used to consider Indian tour a non serious cricketing tour. Sir Gary Sobers had himself supposedly said that an India tour is meant to party, boozing, receive adulation from women with some cricket and making some money along the way.

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    :) )

    [Reply]

  • Rajendra

    Hello Sujata (or if that actually is your real name),

    Its not cricketers who are trouble, of course the media people who know stuff but don’t have guts to bring it out or get sold to keep it under wraps also are culprits. I understand in a country like India we have to fear for a lot of things (for life and well being ) to bring these things to public,but as is case of murder, the supporters of guilt or with-holders of information are sufficiently guilty of a crime. Guts in journalism is a virtue, that as professional but being humans at the end of the day is what leads our lives so we can’t complain.I guess if we believe the game is fixed lets believe that its fixed if not just enjoy the thrill. Players like Tendulkar are still playing to fulfill the dream of winning world cup in their life time and one player involved in fixing can end that dream just like nothing………….Don’t know if I am saying too many things but as a fan of the game it hurts.May be I’ll watch individual sports where the game can only fixed by the guy whose life and winning is in his own hands…………Pain pain and pain (we need to know truth if you have guts say it, don’t try to get mileage by writing these things mam)

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Sujata, indeed, is my name. I am no anonymous troll. And, yes, I understand your sentiment and the pain — my aunt felt it too. That’s why she gave up watchng cricket. When a match would go on at the Wankhede stadium that her balcony overlooked, she would deliberately switch to a Bollywood movie and have the TV on loud to drown out applause from the stadium!

    [Reply]

  • Franklin

    It was quite obvious for me that she playing a safer side not mentioning the names of the oldies who were involved in match fixing . I do not care who were those players because it all proven that cricket is not game but a business. But the thought which is pondering in my mind why this story all of a sudden into this blog. . which means many journalists know lot of things which they use for their personal achievements. I hope I am right..

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    We know a lot more than we reveal, yes. How much i helps s personally achieve, I am not so sure of

    [Reply]

  • Sonali

    Sujata,
    This question is not in reponse to this particular blog.
    I just wanted to know if you ever feel cynical or disillusioned after unearthing and unravelling so many dark skeletons. What keeps you going on?

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    I am a hardened cynic but somewhere is hidden a tender shoot of idealism, that’s how I can go on…

    [Reply]

  • Diwakar

    Another piece which no one else, but this journalist knows. Well, is there any subject / topic / event that you are not aware of, especially the dark secrets which the world certainly has the right to know. It would really behove of your profession if you bring out atleast a minor percentage of all those murky dealings into the open. You will really be doing a great service to the nation.

    [Reply]

    Al Reply:

    Many a readers would like to know more about:

    a) the real promoters/investors of Jet Airways

    b) truth or otherwise of the rumours of foreign currency found in Gavaskar’s lockers a few years ago

    c) alleged large benami real estate holdings of Pawar in Coorg

    d) stories that Pramod Mahajan had a full room in his apartment stacked with cash and that he used to handout Rs30,000 every evening to his son for his night-outs

    e) if only Ganguly and Dravid are the players with integrity, where does that leave the iconic player Tendulkar?
    ( Bal Thackray had made some not so pleasant remarks about Tendulkar’s contribution of a signed bat, instead of cash out of his earnings, for a Marathi film destined for some film show or nomination)

    f) Was Tendulkar one of the benami promoters of the Kochi team, for whom Ms Pushkar was fronting?

    Sujata, if you have any information on these, please enlighten us. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Kunal Reply:

    Tendulkar’s integrity is beyond doubt. Only Dravid and Ganguly are quoted in the article, as the cop says he has tapes which prove their patriotism. Just because it’s an article about Cricket and India, doesn’t mean Tendulkar has to be mentioned somewhere.

    You must be hallucinating if you think you read about Tendulkar and the IPL Kochi franchise scandal. I so far haven’t some across this anywhere.

    [Reply]

    Kunal Reply:

    Money and Greed can corrupt anyone. Cricket is no different and actually Cricket is more prone to such greed, as a lot of young players are involved. Also, it’s a game of performance, so a young player at the age of 20, who doesn’t know long he would hang around in the team for, probably tries to make the most of his presence there and try to make a quick buck.

    Can these corrupt players be legally prosecuted ? I think that’s the only solution, the threat of the law. If you just remove the player…he would probably not care…for as it is he has sold his country for money.

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    I think the answer is in what the cop told me : we do cricketers the injustice of believing they alone are involved. A match cannot be thrown without the knowledge of all or ar least one of the administrators,

    Al Reply:

    Tendulkar, Integrity and Desh Prem

    A person earning in crores seeks tax exemption for his gifted/imported cars. In other words, he wants we salaried people, whose tax is deducted at source, to subsidize him. He didn’t donate even a single Rupee for that Marathi film!! So much for his “desh prem” , “Marathi prem” and Character!!!! Can’t he pay his share of legitimate taxes to the exchequer?

    Is there any difference between him and some of the top Indian billionaires and their companies paying zero tax to the exchequer?

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Have bits and pieces about them. may b I will write whenever the situation is right

    [Reply]

    nupur Reply:

    as usual great insight and a brave piece as usual. We thank you as readers.

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    :)

  • http://boldspeak.blogspot.com Nandu

    dear sujata
    Every body knew that there was some amt of betting involved in cricket . But If you knew these stories why you did not publish them then and why don’t you publish them now. Because it is good thirty years since those events and many of the worthies involved like IS Johar himself is no more . What stops you from bringing out the complete story and not stop at dropping in hints . It is always like Journos talking about picking information from their “Sources” and not having any evidence to back it . And it looks like even this piece is all about “Aunties gossip ” and not a story with strong evidence . Your Blog is all about gossip just spiced up with juicy stories which may not have any evidence to back them . One really is starting to doubt your journalistic integrity because you seem to be sitting over too many dark events

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Well, its not thirty years since I learnt of the IS Johar betting — red it carefully and you will get the timeline

    [Reply]

  • MA

    Sujata,
    As always you have struck at falsehood. Deftly chiseled away at the veneer of respectability some men wear. While none of the guilty alluded to in this piece may ever be brought to book, you’ve done what few do – brought to light some of the darkest secrets. Turn on the halogens! Fewer the dark spots, lesser the space for dishonesty, injustice and evil to thrive in. We do not know what stopped you from going the whole hog. (You must have very strong reasons…Like the rest of the readers, I too am disappointed that you left out some of the details.) But there’s confidence that the things you share with your readers through your columns on Wednesdays in HT or this blog, is ‘the truth and nothing but the truth.’

    Shine on, you crazy diamond!

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    :) :)

    [Reply]

  • amit

    Yeah i agree with one of the readers…. u need to go the whole hog… if you are fearless in disclosing secrets of political leaders, I dont know what is stopping you from giving us more insight about the cricket world.. atleast you can save a few “fake cricket watching” years from my life…….

    cheers

    [Reply]

  • http://board.newaudio-korat.com/index.php?action=profile;u=19046 Vanesa Heinold

    This effect is now being studied in humans and could pave the way for the development of new oral anti diabetic drugs. This may force your body to resist losing weight as a means to protect itself from the huge release of free radicals that result from the break down of fat.

    [Reply]

  • http://webpro.saestudent.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=27556 Junko Orobona

    This article gives the light in which we can observe the reality. this is very nice one and gives indepth information. thanks for this nice article

    [Reply]

  • buz

    Sanjay Dutt is a thug and a terrorist. He should be punished.

    [Reply]

  • Yeh Hai Hindustan, Meyree Jaan

    The evidence against Narendra Modi can fill the whole library of Congress.

    But he has been overwhelmingly elected thrice by Gujarati Hindu rapists, looters and arsonists.

    And 50% Bhagwad Gita Adherents want him as the next Crime Minister of Hindu stan.

    [Reply]

  • sktrisal@airtelmail.in

    if the reports that he got the arms consignment unloaded in his backyard are correct and that the purpose was to use them in case of a communal strife after the bombings,i feel he has been treated with kid gloves ,he should be retried under tada and treated as any other criminal with such activity

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    This article speaks about the pathetic judiciary of India, a country that should stayed as part of Britain for the next 1000 years so that the common man in India would have had some quality of life, understood values of civilized behavior.
    Coming to this issue, Sanjay Dutt appears to be paying a price for illegally owning a fire arm. How many Indians own fire arms – including politicians, their thugs, criminals (appears most of men folks are criminals!). Just because thousands of others undergo this ordeal, it does not mean that a group of people cannot get together to take up this cause and change it a tleast for one individual.
    If it cannot, judiciary has a duty to give a similar punishment to all those who have owned/who own fire arms without a license. It can be one of the Gandhis, all the politicians of Bihar, UP, and any number of states that India has. Then, you are talking about law and its application to all regardless of class and clout. I can think of Britain where this is possible (although Tony Blair is walking absolutely free, in fact, he is the Middle East Peace Envoy!!!), US is mother of India – corrupt, ruthless, and mostly ignorant.

    [Reply]

  • Jamal

    I did not see Sanjay Dutt suffering for 20 years. This man was making millions making movies and enjoying himself. Nobody tortured him. He is a criminal and must go to jail

    [Reply]

  • sumit

    well just because he is a flim star……he cant get away with punishment……he should b punished without any further delay….

    [Reply]

  • the truth

    It is a clear evidence of unequal law in India ! Are all the Indian politicians and many others living in the country like saints !

    [Reply]

  • Manjeet

    How about Carceration for Killing all the Sikhs in Delhi ? Why are those Politicians walking free NO JAIL & you have the Guts to say that Justice is done.Typical Hindu Mentality !!!!!

    [Reply]

  • Jai-Hanuman

    If he is criminal , then half of the Indian population is criminal. Do you have enough space in the jail. You do not have enough toilets in the country, what are you talking. I do not understand, whole country is now bothered about a person, can’t say he is not guilty, who is not a criminal, whereas, actual criminals are having fun in Pak. Does India have guts to grab them. Tell everyone in the world that India is impotent, If you have no guts to punish the actual culprits, please do not make fun of such idiotic acts of SC.

    [Reply]

  • V.Muthuswami

    Yes it is true and it is unequal. This time even with money, he could buy the judgement he wanted. This is bound to happen with the kind of system we have including criminal justice system. I do not buy the sentimentality behind long personal suffering and mental torture, et al.(how many crores he made during these years? Was he mentally ill?) because many of the thousands under-trials under go in this idiotic country and how many hundreds of fisherman get killed just for fishing in the imaginative international sea boundary line (they are all illetrate and their lives move from day to day) by sundakkai Sri Lanki naval monsters.

    [Reply]

  • V.Muthuswami

    Yes it is true and it is unequal. This time even with money, he could buy the judgement he wanted. This is bound to happen with the kind of system we have including criminal justice system. I do not buy the sentimentality behind long personal suffering and mental torture, et al.(how many crores he made during these years? Was he mentally ill?) because many of the thousands under-trials under go in this idiotic country and how many hundreds of fisherman get killed just for fishing in the imaginative international sea boundary line (they are all illetrate and their lives move from day to day) by sundakkai Sri Lanki naval monsters.

    [Reply]

  • Ajay Kumar Sinha

    WE INDIANS HAVE STILL A FEUDAL THINKING SO SUCH TYPE OF THING IS ALWAYS HAPPENED . WE ARE NOT DEMOCRAT IN TRUE SENSE. WE ARE CARRYING A LEGACY OF FEUDAL SYSTEM

    [Reply]

  • APJain

    Agreed the judicial process super slow, but the delay of 20 years cannot be attributed to the SC alone. Now since the we all know that dutt was guilty of the crime, he could have as well admitted to crime 20 years back. But he didn’t, so complaining about 20 years delay is useless.

    [Reply]

  • Abigaylesmith

    Some people are work for earned the Money in Hurry therefore they are doing a crime and involved in the crime.

    http://www.prlog.org/12105403-ashford-promo-code-2013s-superb-savings-with-up-to-50-off-act-instantly.html

    [Reply]