Gulam Bodi, the man accused of orchestrating a match-fixing ring, will probably go down in the cricketing annals as a ‘nearly man’.
In a cricketing perspective, his career was one disappointment after another: he was picked for the Proteas Test team to play West Indies, but missed the trip after breaking a finger. He was named in the 2007 World T20 squad to play in front of his home crowds, but did not get a game. He was picked by the Delhi Daredevils for the Indian Premier League, but again, did not get a game.
He did receive recognition at home, being picked for two ODIs, against Zimbabwe, and a T20, and being named one of the five SA Cricketers of the Year for 2007, alongside, Paul Harris, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt and Morne van Wyk.
But that was the pinnacle. He was never to reach those heights again.
His future, after he had emigrated from India to South Africa as a teenager, had looked so bright in his early years, representing SA Schools and the young Proteas in the U19 World Cup, impressing with his left-arm chinaman.
Yet, after the successes of 2007, he fell from the radar, meandering through a career of 108 first-class and 144 List A matches; with some success, it must be said, scoring 5001 and 4105 runs respectively until he finally retired after a Sunfoil match in January last year.
On his way, he gained a certain notoriety as the straw that broke Kevin Pietersen’s back. It was the selection of Bodi for the Kwa-Zulu Natal team, ahead of him, which forced Pietersen to emigrate to England and become one of the most destructive batsmen the world has seen.
In his autobiography, Pietersen writes:
‘I was dropped because the quota system was brought into South African cricket to positively discriminate in favour of “players of colour” and to fast-track the racial integration of cricket in the country. To me, every single person in this world needs to be treated exactly the same and that should have included me, as a promising 20-year-old cricketer. If you do well you should play on merit. That goes for any person of any colour. It was heartbreaking.
‘Even though it was very hard for me to take in at the time, it turned out it was the best thing that could have happened.’
‘I flew into a rage,’ he admitted when he was told that he was being left out so that Bodi could play, ‘flinging a water bottle across the dressing-room and shouting ”I’m leaving here”.’
Pietersen said that he and his father tried to reason with Phil Russell, Natal’s coach, but got nowhere. And as for Gulam? ‘I’m not aware he’s made much impact …’
Well, he has now, but for all the wrong reasons.