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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
The year 2013 has been testing for the cricketing fraternity. Match-fixing and spot-fixing controversies came to the fore again and it asked serious questions on the credibility of a few entities. In many ways, it was an eye-opener that cricket may not have been cleansed completely after all. Apart from that, there were other controversies which rocked the cricketing world, sledging and on-field confrontations being notable ones. Here is a look at some controversies that marred cricket during the year 2013:
IPL 2013, Spot-fixing controversy: On May 16, 2013, Indian cricket woke up to the news of the alleged involvement of Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila in spot-fixing. The trio, who represented the Rajasthan Royals, were arrested in the middle of the night by the Delhi Police in Mumbai and were taken to the capital. As the days progressed, it only got murkier with the alleged involvement of Gurunath Meiyappan, Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) President N Srinivasan’s son-in-law and Bollywood actor, Vindoo Dara Singh in betting. Meanwhile, the players were in custody for almost a month before getting bail. They were also slapped charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). The BCCI conducted their own enquiry, which found them guilty and banned them for life.
BCCI hands clean chits: While the players were at the centre of all the attention due to their alleged involvement, some of the franchises also came under suspicion. Apart from Meiyappan, Raj Kundra of the Rajasthan Royals was also grilled by the police and suspected of betting huge sums. The BCCI came up with its own internal enquiry and as a result, it handed clean chits to Meiyappan, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. What angered everyone was that the big fish were let off without much scrutiny.
ICC investigates Chris Cairns, Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey for their alleged involvement in match-fixing: A year that saw the murky side of the sport come to the fore ended with another shocking news. In December, reports in the media suggested that a few former New Zealand cricketers were being investigated by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for their alleged involvement in match fixing. In a matter of hours, it surfaced that the trio in question were Chris Cairns, Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey. Cairns, who was commentating at a game between New Zealand and West Indies left mid-way. Vincent said that he was co-operating with the investigators.
Mohammad Ashraful accepts involvement in match-fixing during BPL: Mohammad Ashraful burst onto the scene in 2001 as a 17-year-old boy with precocious talent. Twelve years down the line, he sobbed in public confessing his grievous misdemeanor. Ashraful accepted throwing away a game during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) for a certain sum of money and confessed his involvement in the episode. The fact that it came from one of Bangladesh’s biggest stars was a shock and the world watched with a sense of despair and anger, as he broke down in public.
Stuart Broad doesn’t walk and Darren Lehmann cries foul: During the first Test of the Ashes 2013 at Nottingham, Trent Bridge, both England and Australia were fighting tooth and nail to gain control in the Test match. In the second innings, Stuart Broad stitched together an important stand with Ian Bell when he edged one to first slip off left-arm spinner, Ashton Agar. Australia celebrated, but umpire Aleem Dar ruled in favour of Broad. It had taken Brad Haddin’s pads, before going to first slip and that might have confused him. Broad was unmoved and he continued to bat despite the blatant edge. As a result, he became Australia’s bête noire, as his partnership with Bell gave England a good total to defend and they won the contest by 14 runs. Many felt that Broad should have walked and that his actions were against the spirit of the game. Australia’s newly appointed coach Darren Lehmann cried foul, suggesting that Broad cheated and said in a radio interview that he hoped the Australian crowd would give it back to the English paceman when the rivalry resumed Down Under.
Sledging Down Under: So when Lehmann meant the Australian crowds should give it back, his troops took it very seriously and had a go at the Englishmen when they arrived for the Ashes 2013-14. Michael Clarke was involved in a heated exchange with James Anderson, as Australia coasted to victory in the first Test at Brisbane. It was an ugly sight as Clarke angrily gestured towards Anderson and the stump microphone picked up a few lines. The Australian skipper apparently told the English paceman that they would break his arm. Later, Anderson also reacted to some chirp by George Bailey from short-leg. The Australians kept at it and the verbal exchanges continued, though not as ugly as the one in the first Test. However, David Warner did touch the extreme when he termed Jonathan Trott,”poor and weak.” The England batsman was fighting a battle of his own then and returned home due to stress related issues.
Homework-gate saga: Before Lehmann came to power in the Australian camp, coach Mickey Arthur was trying to keep afloat a sinking ship. During their tour to India, Australia were already 0-2 down after the first two Tests when Arthur asked each member of his team to send in their thoughts on how to improve their game. The players had the option of responding in any manner. It could have been a text message, a written note or anything. However, James Pattinson, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson failed to complete the task and as punishment, they were dropped for the third Test at Mohali. It was an appalling decision as Pattinson had been their best bowler till then and Watson was one of their seniors. Arthur was slammed by everyone and Clarke did try to defend the decision in the interests of team discipline etc. But, it only added to Australia’s woes as they slipped to a 0-4 loss.
Shane Warne takes on Marlon Samuels: In what was one of ugliest episodes on the cricket field, Shane Warne and Marlon Samuels confronted each other and there was a chance of them coming to blows. The incident occurred during a game between Warne’s Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades. The leg-spinning legend wasn’t happy with Samuels’s action of holding David Hussey, while he was trying to complete a run during the Stars’ innings. When Samuels walked out to bat for Renegades, Warne had a go at him and even pulled his shirt on one occasion. As Warne got a lot closer, Samuels even flung his bat in the air as the temperatures rose. Both players were reprimanded, with Warne being banned for one game.
David Warner punches Joe Root: David Warner was branded Australia’s bad boy during the first half of 2013. If his twitter tirade directed at a few Australian journalists wasn’t enough, he then punched England’s Joe Root at a nightclub during the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. Warner was instantly banned and Australia’s team discipline came under scrutiny. He subsequently missed the first two Ashes Tests and was packed off to South Africa Africa to get some match practice.
Faf du Plessis ball tampering: During the Pakistan-South Africa series in the United Arab Emirates, du Plessis was caught on camera tampering the ball. It is said that it was inadvertent as he apparently used the zip of his trouser pockets to tamper with the ball and it caused quite a bit of heartburn when he was let off with a fine and a small reprimand. Some asked if the punishment was too lenient and whether he deserved a harsher sentence.
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