Vinod Kambli on 17/11/2011 claimed that Cricket World Cup semi-final in Calcutta in 1996 could have been fixed. The team had decided to bat first if it won toss as in quarter-final against Pakistan it had batted first and won the match. Mohammed Azharuddin had won the toss. Navjot Singh Sidhu had padded up. Mohammed Azharuddin elected to field. Vinod Kambli was stunned. Sri Lanka batted first. India batting second went from 98/1 to 120/8 and there was crowd trouble. Match referee Clive Lloyd stopped the play and awarded the match to Sri Lanka. Vinod Kambli was in tears. Sri Lanka went to final and won the World Cup. India could have won the World Cup. He said he was made a scapegoat, shunned by team members and his career was over.
Mohammed Azharuddin contradicted Vinod Kambli. He said the decision to field first was a team decision and Vinod Kambli was perhaps sleeping when the decision was taken. In a previous match Sri Lanka had batted second and had defeated India. He said Vinod Kambli has no character, uneducated and uncouth. Sourav Ganguly suggested Mohammed Azharuddin should sue Vinod Kambli as whispers go around. Sanjay Manjrekar backed Mohammed Azharuddin. Ajit Wadekar who was manager said he and Navjot Singh Sidhu wanted to bat first but to field first was a team decision.
Some have questioned Vinod Kambliâ€™s motive and timing. What was he doing for 15 years? He played ODIs after that and his last ODI was in 2000. Some said he was frustrated and desperate for attention.
There has been talk that Indians were told to lose the match to avoid playing in Pakistan. Some years later Mohammed Azharuddin was found guilty of match-fixing and banned for life. Ajay Jadeja was banned for five years. Two other cricketers were banned for some years.
Vinod Kambliâ€™s statement came after Paul Condon, former head of ICCâ€™s anti-corruption unit, said every international team in 1990s fixed games and spot-fixing began in World Cup 2003 in South Africa. He blamed proliferation of spot-fixing partly on popularity of Twenty20 cricket.
It does not matter Vinod Kambli did not speak for 15 years. He played in the match. The matter needs to be investigated. Mohammed Azharuddin is Congress MP. Navjot Singh Sidhu is BJP MP. Sachin Tendulkar continues to play. All cricketers in the Indian team at the time must be questioned.
Peter Roebuck, cricket writer and commentator, died on 12/11/2011. Officially his death is a suicide. He was questioned about sexual assault at 9 p.m. At 9.15 p.m. he jumped to death from his sixth floor window.
There is reason to suspect foul play. The death came after Cape Town Test which had inexplicable batting collapses on 10/11/2011, second day of the Test. For the second time in Test history four Innings were played on a single day, two in full and two in part. Most of the wickets fell after lunch and before tea. Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were ruled not out by field umpire and on DRS appeal out by third umpire. Mark Boucher was ruled out by field umpire and on DRS appeal there was no reversal. It is possible that the Test was fixed and Peter Roebuck knew about it. His death could be a murder. On 17/3/2007 Pakistan lost to Ireland and next day Pakistanâ€™s Coach Robert Andrew Woolmer was dead. He was once coach of South Africa.
It is necessary to investigate betting on Cape Town Test. Who were the bookies? What were the odds on Australia winning, South Africa winning and draw? What were the odds on scores by teams and individuals? What were the odds on wickets by bowlers? What were the odds on the Test getting over by the third day? Who gained and who lost and how much by betting on the outcomes? We need to know the answers.
The death also comes in the backdrop of three Pakistani cricketers serving sentences for spot-fixing, two in jail and one in detention centre. If Peter Roebuck had exposed spot-fixing it could have been jail for all involved.
It is easy to target a whistleblower with a sex crime as happened in the case of Julian Assange. Peter Roebuck is not alive to give his version about the accusation of sexual assault. Truth about Peter Roebuck must come out.
There is the story of a man who killed the goose that laid golden eggs. Similar is the case with BCCI.
Recent ODI series in India against England witnessed large number of empty seats in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mohali, Bombay and Calcutta. There was drop in television viewing. The law of diminishing returns was at work. Within six months of World Cup interest in cricket had declined. During World Cup there were long queues for tickets for matches played by India and in some cases there was lathi charge. For the past four years there have been Tests, ODIs and T20s one after the other and people were bound to lose interest at some point.
When IPL began it provided an alternative to people fed up with K serials. Soon K serials disappeared. In 2009 and 2010 T20 World Cup was after IPL. In 2011 IPL was after ODI World Cup which India won and there was less interest in IPL.
Many cities host at least one Test or ODI every year. In those cities people have spent enough money and seen enough cricket. At one time when Tests were few and there was no TV in most parts of India every stadium used to be full for every Test. Then came ODIs, more Tests and spread of TV. Crowds for Tests in stadia declined. ODIs had full crowds. Then ODIs featuring India had full crowds and other ODIs had less spectators, sometimes very few in a stadium. Now even ODIs featuring India do not have full crowds.
Many Indians watch football and car race and interest in cricket is likely to decline. With less people watching there will be less money and that means decline of BCCIâ€™s clout. That may mean politicians and businessmen leaving BCCI and cricketers running BCCI.