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May 6, 2000


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Smoke on the water

Prem Panicker

We at Rediff are very helpful types, generally.

It is in this spirit that we decided to help the ICC.

We were told that at the end of the two-day ICC meeting earlier this week in London, it was decided to frame a code of conduct, and to empower a comission to enforce it.

So, being the good little boy scouts we are, we decided to help the ICC draft the code. So here goes -- read through it and tell us if we have missed out on anything, please?

Players and Team Officials Code (Rules of Conduct)

Players and/or team officials shall not bet on matches nor otherwise engage in conduct referred to in Appendix A of the ICC Code of Conduct Commission Terms of Reference.

Appendix: Relevant Matters for Investigation

The Code of Conduct Commision shall inquire whether any player of any cricket authoriy's team participating in any Test match, one day international match or representative cricket match or any umpire, referee, team official or administrator of any such cricket authority representing or in any way related to the Cricket Authority of any such member country

1) Has engaged in any of the following conduct:

(i) Bet on any match or series of matches, or on any event connected with any match or series of matches in which such player, umpire, referee, team official or administrator took part or in which the member country of any such individual was represented

(ii) Induced or encouraed any other person to bet on any match or series of matches or on any event or to offer the facility for such bets to be placed;

(iii) Gambled or entered into any other form of financial speculation on any match or on any event;

(iv) Induced or encouraged any other person to gamble or enter into any other form of financial speculation on any match or any event;

(v) Was a party to contriving or attempting to contrive the result of any match or the occurence of any event;

(vi) Failed to perform on his merits in any match owing to an arrangement relating to betting on the outcome of any match or the occurence of any event;

(vii) Induced or encouraged any other player not to perform to his merits in any match owing to any such arrangement;

(viii) Received from another person any money, benefit or other reward (whether financial or otherwise) for the provision of any information concerning the weather, the teams, the state of the ground, the status of, or the outcome of, any match, or the occurence of any event unless such information has been provided to a newspaper or other form of media in accordance with an obligation entered into in the normal course and disclosed in advance to the cricket authority of the relevant member country;

(ix) Received any money, benefit or other reward (whether financial or otherwise) which could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute;

(x) Provided any money, benefit or other reward (whether financial or otherwise) which could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute;

(xi) Received any approaches from another person to engage in conduct such as that described in any of the above sub-paragraphs (i) to (x) or

(2) Is aware that any other player or individual has engaged in conduct, or received approaches, such as described in any sub-paragraph of paragraph (1) above; or

(3) Has received or is aware that any other person has received threats of any nature that might induce him to engage in conduct, or acquiesce in any proposal made by an approach, such as described in any sub-paragraph of paragraph (1) above;

(4) Has engaged in any conduct which in the opinion of the Executive Board is prejudicial to the interests of the game of cricket.

There! Is that comprehensive enough? Does it cover everything that needs to be covered?

I know, I know -- you guys feel like applauding us for a job well done, don't you?

Please don't -- the credit does not belong to us. The above paragraphs, comprising a section of the code of conduct relating to the issues of betting, match-fixing et al, are taken from a slim handbook, put out by the ICC, under the title 'Code of Conduct, Standard Playing Conditions and Other Regulations', in September of 1999.

Remember the backdrop to this? Shane Warne and Mark Waugh had just confessed, rather belatedly, to taking money from bookmakers for providing information about the weather, et al. The ICC executive committee had met in London, 'engaged in deliberations', formed a commission of inquiry, and incorporated into the code of conduct various items dealing with what in its opinion was unacceptable behaviour.

The commission formed at the time was headed by Lord Griffith, and had one member apiece from each of the Test-playing nations. Former board president N K P Salve was nominated India's representative of that commission.

The commission was briefed to inquire into all clauses and sub-clauses listed above -- and the frame of reference clearly spells out this as well: The commission shall inquire whether, at any time after 1 July 1993, any player of a cricket authority's team..... etc (read the rest from 'Relevant Matters for Investigation' above.

So in sum -- there was a scandal, a commission was formed, a frame of reference was given, a code was prescribed.

And? Nothing. The Griffith committee has not held a single meeting, between that day and this.

The ICC has not done anything about Mark Waugh and Shane Warne -- not even put out a lousy press release -- who have admitted to having done things that are specifically proscribed by its own code of conduct.

And now Cronje has admitted to wrong doing. The ICC has met. "Deliberated". And announced another commission, another code of conduct. Why? Cronje's admitted wrongdoing is clearly covered in the code detailed above. It forms a clear violation of that code. What stopped the ICC from immediately spelling out punishment?

Who framed the code detailed above? Why, the ICC executive board, is who. Who is going to frame the new code of conduct? Surprise, surprise, the same ICC, under the same chairman and same chief executive with the same executive board. So what will this new code contain that is not there in the existing code?

What will this new commission do, which the previous one could not?

What we are seeing is a classic case of blowing smoke -- each time something happens, there is a meeting, the announcement of a code, a commission, a determination to 'root out the evil'.

Given the track record outlined above, why should the cricket fan believe in the ICC's credentials and its sincerity?

To give you another example: Item 10 of the code of conduct for players and officials reads: "Players and/or team officials shall not use or in any way be concerned in the use or distribution of illegal drugs.

Sounds impressive, doesn't it? To what point, though? Does the ICC have a machinery in place to drug-test players? No. Has the ICC taken cognisance of reports of various cricketers who were caught doing drugs? No.

Then what is that line doing in the code?

What is that code doing in print, when the issuing authority so clearly has neither the will, nor the inclination, to enforce a single provision thereof?

What makes the ICC imagine it can fool all the people all the time?

Tailpiece: A fortnight ago, Amul, which comes up with topical, news-based ads and hoardings marketing its line of processed cheese, flooded major metros and towns with hoardings proclaiming: Dalmiya mein kuch kala hai

The very next day, the ICC chairman announced that he was contemplating legal action against the brand.

Today, in the Times of India, on the front page, I read this little item, nicely highlighted in a box. It reads: 'Dalmiya contemplates legal action against Amul'.

The idea is simple, and based on very simple psychology: People don't, in general, read and assimilate every word of a story -- more often, they tend to absorb the gist, absorb a general idea.

By talking of legal action, thus (and these days, everyone is talking of legal action -- the board against Bindra, Bindra against Dalmiya, Dalmiya against Bindra, Kapil against Bindra.... the list is endless), the impression sought to be conveyed is that the person concerned has been maligned and is going to fight.

It is a bit like the street bully who yells at the top of his voice about all the things he will do to you -- all this, while standing a safe distance away. But does he deliver? No way, Jose!

A couple of years ago, the board announced that it was contemplating legal action against Manoj Prabhakar and Outlook magazine. Did it follow up on that threat?


Less than a year ago, Jaywant Lele announced that he was taking legal action against Rediff. Did he deliver on that threat? No. When we challenged him to, he backed off.

Now comes more contemplation. Will this result in concrete action? The answer -- and on this, I will be glad to be proved wrong -- is, NO!

Isn't it time officials were told to either put up, or shut the heck up?

I mean, every morning, I light a cigarette, go park myself on the potty and contemplate the heck of a lot of things. Why is that news? What difference does it make to anyone?

How is Dalmiya's 'contemplation' any different?

Prem Panicker

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