Kaneria plight reflects wider ills

THE former ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit director Ravi Sawani has this week submitted a report to the Indian cricket authorities as the result of a television ‘sting’ that appeared to show five players in the IPL willing to involve themselves in corruption. The affair has shown that the IPL is extremely vulnerable to manipulation in view of the enormous live television viewing figures and the wealth of the betting industry.

Sawani’s report on the IPL will be discussed by the Indian Board’s disciplinary panel at roughly the same time as the ECB will be assessing a disciplinary case against Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan leg-spinner mentioned by the judge at the Mervyn Westfield trial as a corruptor during his time at Essex.

Since then, Kaneria’s career has lingered under a cloud. The damage that suspicion could do to cricket was well illustrated by another corruption inquiry, this time in Karachi. Kaneria came under suspicion simply because he walked off the field with a side strain during a 20-over Super Eights match at Rawalpindi in March after bowling only four deliveries for 11 runs. His team Karachi Zebras suffered an upset defeat to Peshawar Panthers back, and an inquiry was launched when the Karachi manager later said he suspected spot-fixing and underperforming.

The accusation deflected credit from the victorious underdogs and from Riaz Afridi in particular for his four cheap wickets. Karachi City Cricket Association cleared Kaneria, though they announced after the hearing that the inquiry against other players, including former Pakistan batsman Hasan Raza, the captain, would continue.

In March a tweet made by Lalit Modi during his time as IPL commissioner, cost him £90,000 in libel damages at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and a legal bill many times that amount, even though the tweet had been seen by only 65 people. He had falsely claimed that Chris Cairns had been involved in corrupt activity, an assertion that was repeated in court and rejected by the judge as having no basis whatsoever on the evidence, but the worrying part of that case was an insight into the corruption that was going on elsewhere within the IPL.

No one needs reminding that in February this year Westfield was jailed at the Old Bailey for four months, including two months on licence, for accepting corrupt payment to underperform for Essex in a match. Last November the Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were sent to prison for various terms, guilty of cheating and accepting corrupt payments.

Another blot on cricket’s integrity has been removed to prison this week. Allen Stanford, the Texan ‘financier’, has been sentenced to 110 years in jail for one of the biggest frauds in history. He was convicted in March on 13 of 14 charges of defrauding investors of more than £4.5 billion in a ponzi scheme. Antigua-based, he pumped funds into 20-over cricket, most notably a series involving West Indies All Stars XI against England, an underhand deal that caused a furious argument between the West Indies Board’s official sponsors Digicel.