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A few weeks ago, the news of Lou Vincent’s confession about his involvement in match-fixing was greeted by a number of knee-jerk reactions. Now, Mohammad Ashraful’s case has come back into the spotlight. Shiamak Unwalla observes how the two cases are similar in certain aspects.
When Mohammad Ashraful confessed to fixing matches during the 2013 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing scandal of 2013 was fresh in everyone’s memory. Here too, a highly respected (the fact that S Sreesanth has been a part of two world cup winning teams must count for something) senior member of the side had been at the forefront of fixing.
However, unlike the accused trio of Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan, and Ajit Chandila in the IPL scandal, Ashraful came across as a player who was genuinely remorseful at having let his fans down. Of course, the fact that Ashraful actually confessed to having been involved makes his case entirely different from the three IPL players. Indeed, Sreesanth denies his involvement in the matter vociferously till date.
Whether the trio were entirely or even partially involved in any fixing that took place is still not proven. But that uncertainty does not arise in Ashraful’s case.
Much like Lou Vincent, who admitted to being majorly involved in fixing county matches, Ashraful too had come out in the open to confess his transgressions after being pulled up. The similarities in the case are striking. Ashraful’s case came to light in 2013, while Vincent’s was a far more recent affair. Yet, both players confessed almost immediately after being caught.
While Ashraful’s admission incriminated another 12 players in the BPL, Vincent’s declaration is likely to blow the lid on a far greater operation. Ashraful has been banned from all forms of cricket for eight years by the BCB — a reprimand that seems minor considering that most other cricketers are banned for life if caught for fixing.
Vincent is one such player who is facing a life ban. However, Vincent was caught in a country that sends fixers to jail — Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt can confirm this — so his confession and assurance of co-operating might have saved him from being locked up immediately.
Whether it was a ploy on the part of both cricketers to confess in order to escape more grievous punishment, or whether they were truly repentant at their actions no one can tell. The fact is, both men have been let off relatively easily as of now because they cooperated with the authorities by providing key information about their respective fixing rings. Even ins Mohammed Aamer’s case, the left-arm pacer got off with a lesser punishment than his fellow players Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif.
It is perhaps within the realms of possibility that other corrupt players — if and when caught — could resort to regret-filled confessions, whether genuine or not, to escape serious retribution. Or perhaps what Vincent and Ashraful — and Butt, Asif and Mohammad Aamer before them — went through will put off players from fixing at all. One can always hope.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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