The world would be a better place if it took a leaf out of cricket’s book and got to the root of all evil. Football, athletics, cycling, boxing, you name it, have fought their own demons over the years. There are cheats from those who hold the highest positions in office to those right at the bottom of the food chain.
Cricket SA and the ICC need to be applauded for exposing Bodi as a ‘ring leader’ in the fixing case. As a South African one doesn’t need to hang one’s head in shame. It’s a positive moment when South Africa is able to say, ‘got ’em!’
Every country in the world has far too many T20 competitions and the volume of matches, at every level of the sport, is something that the ICC should actually be ashamed of. They have brought the wolves in amongst the chickens by leaving the gate open. The ICC, in ‘promoting’ cricket, have cast aside the proper forms, like Tests, at the expense of T20 which is now the most popular form of the sport.
It’s also the most commercially viable and it’s here to stay. However, it is incredibly easy to ‘fix’ and it’s probably happening across every country that stages T20.
This is not a South African scourge. Of course, the haters will bring up the Hansie Cronje match-fixing saga, but there is a huge difference in that and what Bodi has been accused of. One involves a team or majority of players, the other being a simple ‘spread’ of runs in an over or two and requiring a bowler to bowl an agreed line and length and the captain to set a field that will allow the batsman to score the runs.
I know of an international cricketer who was offered a huge amount of cash, in US dollars, to ensure the first ball of a match at the 1999 World Cup (50 overs) was a wide. He declined, even though he knew that he could easily spear the ball down leg side, have the umpire call ‘wide’, then say ‘sorry’ to his teammates and walk back to bowl the next ball knowing he had won the spot-fix bet. It is that easy. He later related the pressure he felt when, after turning down the approach to bowl a wide, he ran in to bowl that first ball and ensure it was ‘legal’.
These days, in a sped-up world and instant results, widespread fixing in T20 is a given.
Yet, Bodi won’t be the only name mentioned. It’s impossible for him to have been able to spot-fix in the Ram Slam Series on his own. And also, spare a thought for the other players in the team, surely there are some who must have ‘heard’ something, or ‘felt’ something. And if they didn’t report such suspicions, that too is a crime under ICC laws.
Applaud the media as well. It took a column in the Business Day by well-connected writer Neil Manthorp, as well as a riveting interview between him and Cape Talk host John Maytham to get the ball rolling. Previously, all communication with CSA had been met by a terse ‘no comment’. However, Manthorp’s background work clearly sped up the ‘naming and shaming’ process and it shows that many in the media are credible in their reporting.