Dave Richards is the Jekyll and Hyde of ICC

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, May 8, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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The names of more than a dozen players have already emerged from under the bushel, as the investigating agencies, more than the administrators, continue to make every effort to lay bare an unknown number of cases of betting and match-fixing activities. Perhaps, many more still remain buried in the quagmire that indeed will take some cleaning.

The floodgates opened with the Hansie Cronje exposure by the Delhi police. But, much more has happened since, which ought to lead the people concerned to focus as much attention on the high officials and the dubious roles they may have played, or continue to play, in the whole sordid episode.

Those openly named have reacted variously by shedding tears to tearing their hair, and some of them have hit back by moving court to launch defamation suits. It is learnt that quite a few Indian players have already sought legal advice, should their names ever be dragged into the controversy through the on going CBI inquiry.

The very suggestion of names of players makes big news. Not many, however, want to name the administrators of the game for their alleged shady deals, no one, except one Inderjit Singh Bindra.

This writer continues to hold the view that corrupt or inefficient cricket administrators are equally, if not even more, guilty than players who are suspected to be involved in any form of shady deals, either of laying a big bet or be drawn into acts that aid match fixing.

Let us start from the very top. The name of the ICC president, our own Jagmohan Dalmiya, has been allegedly drawn into what has been termed as "a major scam of swindling Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan of millions of dollars on the TV rights deal for the ICC tournament held at Dhaka in 1998."

Dalmiya reacted instantly by slapping a defamation suit against Arun Agarwal, who was assigned the responsibility of investigating the deal, as well as Prasar Bharati.

Dalmiya is within his rights to seek legal redress. The International Cricket Council, however, had no right or jurisdiction, whatsoever, to issue a certificate of absolute innocence to Jagmohan Dalmiya in the deal, at a time when the apex body for the game was meeting to tackle the biggest controversy to hit the game in its 123-year history.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is seized of the matter, as is a court in Calcutta to deliver a final judgement on the issue. It is not for the ICC, through its paid employee, to decide the issue. The ICC is not even named as a co-complainant in the suit filed by Dalmiya. It can only depose if called upon by the court to do so.

Now, we come to another big name amongst the cricket administrators of the game, that of David Richards. The former chief of the Australian Cricket Board, is at present a paid employee of the International Cricket Council, as its chief executive. He draws a fabulous salary and enjoys perks that include a free house, a car and all expenses paid for his travel around the cricketing world.

How can a paid employee make policy statements, on his own, like offering amnesty to guilty players and clearing the name of Dalmiya from an alleged shady deal involving the Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan ?

The man, who, when he was the chief of the Australian Cricket Board, had been guilty of concealing vital evidence of two Australian players having received money from bookies and being fined for the illegal acts, is today assigning to himself the right to signing good conduct certificates of even his superiors, like the ICC president.

The deed becomes darker when one considers that David Richards' claim that it was he, and not Dalmiya, who had negotiated the final deal with Doordarshan. The record on this point has been set right by the documents in possession of Prasar Bharati and Doordarshan.

One of the documents is a letter written and signed by David Richards and addressed to Prasar Bharati, which says "you are requested to discuss the deal further with the ICC president." According to other documents in the Prasar Bharati file, three days of negotiations took place between the PB and DD official with Jagmohan Dalmiya at Calcutta, before a much higher bid was offered by the Prasar Bharati on the advice of Dalmiya himself, to clinch the deal.

All these documents prove that what David Richards claimed in London on May 3, was at total variance with facts presented by Arun Agarwal from his inspection of the files. It is patently clear that the deal was worked out between Prasar Bharati and Jagmohan Dalmiya and not David Richards.

The credibility of such high-placed officials ought to be questioned when they rely on acts of prevarication to turn an important issue around.

Then David Richards plays the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. On the one hand, he comes to the defence of Jagmohan Dalmiya, and, on the other, he works out a clandestine arrangement as chief of the crucial finance and marketing committee of the ICC, to keep Jagmohan Dalmiya out of the panel while negotiating TV and internet rights for the 2003 and 2007 World Cups without assigning any reasons.

If Jagmohan Dalmiya has his pride intact, for which he has gone to the extent of filing a libel suit, then he must forthwith resign as the ICC chief, days ahead of his term coming to an end, and expose the crooked and racist intents and acts of an all-powerful ICC official like David Richards. Why investigate the players alone?

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