Match-fixers still at large, says India Cronje-buster

Published: Friday, January 31, 2003, 19:53 [IST]
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New Delhi: Indian police, which accused late South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje of fixing matches in 2000, has warned cheats are still active in South Africa ahead of the World Cup. India's key investigator, who trapped Cronje, also said South Africa had offered little co-operation to help Delhi police pursue the case which exposed the murky side of the cricketing world. The warning from Delhi police special commissioner KK Paul came amid rising worries in domestic security circles that the eruption of large-scale illegal betting in India could prompt rigging of some Cup matches.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) last month claimed the quadrennial event, set to be staged in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya from February 8 until March 23, would be corruption-free. Commissioner Paul and his police detectives had charged Cronje and his teammates Henry Williams, Peiter Strydom and Herschelle Gibbs for fixing One-dayers during South Africa's tour of India three years ago. The ace detective named a South African restaurateur and some other punters as some of the conduits of the disgraced Cronje, who died in a plane crash last year. India has so far failed to secure the extradition of the others to stand trial in a New Delhi court. Paul, who made startling comments on non-co-operation from South African security agencies, said his detectives would not abandon the case against the four players. "The match-fixing case is very much alive because there are other people involved apart from Hansie Cronje," Paul said, as his Crime Branch police detectives warned that bookmakers could try their luck during the World Cup.

"There is (restaurateur) Hamid Qasim Banjo and don't forget there are more people who were helping out in match-fixing. Banjo is very much there and so are the other such people in South Africa," said Paul. "Hundreds of millions of Dollars are involved in the betting and no punter can take a loss when stakes are this high and so the easiest route to fund protection is to try and subvert players if not an entire team," a crime branch detective added. Paul, one of India's most celebrated law-enforcing officials, said despite several requests, South African agencies have not sent critical information needed by the police here to prosecute the South Africans in an Indian court. "The information which has to be furnished by various agencies has not been furnished adequately," he said. "Some information has been made available but from South Africa other vital information is still awaited. We have sent a judicial request and that too has not been replied to," Paul said.

"Hansie Cronje wore that ear-piece and a microphone during the (1999) World Cup but nobody took any notice of that. People took it very casually. People just laughed. You see, there are double standards and they are practised all over the place," the police commissioner said. The Indian attack came a day after former Pakistan fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz said in Islamabad a gambling and match-fixing mafia was active ahead of the World Cup and that a clean event was not possible. "The gambling mafia is active and World Cup cannot be held without match-fixing," said Nawaz, who played 55 Tests and 45 One-day Internationals. Besides Cronje, Pakistan's Salim Mallik and Ataur Rehman and India's Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma were banned for life after investigations carried out in their respective countries. Australia's champion leg spinner Shane Warne and now-retired batsman Mark Waugh, South Africa's Gibbs, Pakistan's Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam- ul-Haq are all leading players fined or penalised for match-fixing.

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