Indian cricketers are well aware of the modus operandi of fixers and are quick to report anything suspect, BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ajit Singh has said.
The ICC ACU head Alex Marshall, in an interview with TheGuardian , said players using various social-media platforms amidst the lockdown could lead to corrupt approaches being made, and that they needed to tread carefully.
Ajit said the BCCI ACU was in control. “We have made our players aware about the way people approach you and modus operandi through social media. We have told them ‘look this is how they (potential fixers and bookies) would approach you’,” the veteran IPS officer told PTI in an interaction.
“[They will] try and behave like a fan and then try to meet you through someone who may be your acquaintance,” he added.
“Somehow these elements try and touch base with players. Most of [the India players], whenever it happens, do report to us that ‘I have got a contact.’”
Tracking social media
Most of the top players, with millions of followers, have been active online with Q-and-A sessions on Twitter , and interactions on Instagram and Facebook Live .
So, is the BCCI’s ACU team tracking the online content? “Whatever can be tracked online, we do that. But obviously the physical verification part of going out and checking locations is out of question in times of a lockdown,” he said.
“But if something comes to our notice, it automatically goes into our database and once lockdown is over, we will verify those if the need arises.”
Ajit said the easiest aspect of tracking social media content was that it didn’t require too much manpower. “A few men who know their jobs can do it pretty well,” the former DGP of Rajasthan said.
But he mentioned that, in his two year stint, all current India players have been honest and upright, very aware about their responsibilities. “We are not adversaries of players. The players and ACU are one team. It’s the people who are trying to corrupt the games, they are the ones we need to track down.”
He said both tracking social media and physical verification of corrupt approaches has its own set of challenges. “Those who were trying to corrupt the players with physical presence and those using fake IDs on social media handles, converge at some point,” he said.
“Either it’s the same person with a fake ID who tries to approach the player or uses someone on his behalf. So there is a pattern of convergence. One has to follow both the lines,” he added.
Ajit said even former players approached the ACU when they found something unusual. “There have been things coming from current players and also retired players. There has been information coming from them. Things that they doubted, which look suspicious. Any information is useful. Even if it’s a false alarm, it raises the awareness level of the players as well as the skills of the team investigating it,” he said.
There were some structural plans for the BCCI’s ACU which would only materialise only once normalcy returned after the COVID-19 pandemic. “Every zone will have a zonal head as it had been said earlier. A few zones don’t have zonal heads, so we will fill those posts,” he said.