Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Cricketers in jail

On 3/11/2011 for the first time cricketers were sent to jail for spot-fixing. Salman Butt was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment. He was the captain. Mohammad Asif was sentenced to one year imprisonment. Mohammad Amir was sentenced to six months detention. He was 18 years old when he bowled the no ball. Mazhar Majeed the fixer was sentenced to two years and eight months imprisonment.

On earlier occasions cricketers found guilty of match-fixing were banned for life or for some years. There was no imprisonment. In this case it happened in England. Southwark Crown Court in London sentenced the cricketers to jail. The punishment could have been seven years for accepting corrupt payments. The cricketers got off lightly. Other countries can follow England’s example and prosecute cricketers involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing. In India they can be prosecuted for cheating and criminal breach of trust or treason. There is no need for a separate law for match-fixing or spot-fixing. In England the cricketers were prosecuted for conspiracy to cheat and accepting corrupt payments.

Spot-fixing was exposed by News of the World which closed down some months back due to the revulsion caused by its phone-hacking of a dead victim. ICC’s anti-corruption unit did not discover any match-fixing or spot-fixing. Veena Malik had exposed Mohammad Asif’s connection to an Indian bookie and no action was taken.

Jail term will act as a deterrent to cricketers who want to engage in illegal activities. They may not think much about ban for a few years or a life ban but going to jail is not a prospect they relish.

Besides cricketers, umpires and officials also should be investigated for match-fixing or spot-fixing. There have been dubious decisions or wrong decisions. Sometimes officials interfere in the game. The investigation can begin with Jaywant Lele who had predicted India would lose Test series 0-3 in Australia when Sachin Tendulkar was the captain. Either he was a match-fixer or he knew the match-fixers. The argument that it was a coincidence that his prediction came true is not valid. There are no coincidences.

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