Mumbai, Oct. 9: An off-the-field first was authored at the Wankhede Wednesday, Day I of the opening Test versus the West Indies, when electronic monitoring of access to the players’ dressing rooms came into operation in India.
This “access-control” in security parlance, has come about at the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit’s (ACU) initiative and will henceforth be a feature at all ICC-approved matches. Here, for instance, three CCTV cameras have been installed and Mumbai Police-vetted “technicians”, among others, are constantly viewing movements on a jumbo monitor.
[Incidentally, in an unrelated exercise, the local police have put in place ‘hidden’ cameras, at different points, for “effective crowd control”.]
“It’s a start, following up what was in operation during the Champions Trophy. Of course, we aren’t invading the players’ privacy. Idea is just to keep track of who enters and leaves what is a very exclusive area,” Niranjan Singh Virk, the ICC’s Security Manager for India and Sri Lanka, told The Telegraph.
Virk, chief investigator during the CBI probe into the Indian players’ involvement in match-fixing, added that “such measures” are going hand-in-hand with the process of “educating” the players. Apparently, Virk took the lead in “informally” interacting with quite a few Indian players during the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.
As part of the “educating” exercise, the ICC has prepared a four-page pamphlet, titled Bounce Corruption Out of Cricket, which has even been pasted outside the dressing rooms at the Wankhede. Besides, Virk has “advised” the Mumbai Cricket Association to have it nailed/pasted around the stadium.
Interestingly, the four-pager has been printed in English and Hindi. One assumes a Sinhalese version must have done the rounds during the Champions Trophy.
Apart from a series of sections — The Temptation, The Trap, The Noose Tightens, The Damage and What Happens Next — the pamphlet has quotes from icons Steve Waugh and Sachin Tendulkar as also South African captain Shaun Pollock. The latter’s quote, by the way, has been printed above a Hansie Cronje picture.
“The players have responded most positively, obviously realising that extra precautions won’t do any harm,” Virk remarked, adding that while arrangements in the official hotel (Taj) have definitely been “co-ordinated,” it wouldn’t be proper to go into details.
Significantly, Virk informed the ACU isn’t only focussing on the national players. “I’ve interacted with a couple of state teams and, in the future, will also be meeting members of the U-19 and U-17 sides... Basically, they should know how to respond to certain situations and, equally, be aware of the dangers of interacting with unscrupulous people...”
Well, Virk is certainly passionate about his job.
TOP GUNS ON MATCH-FIXING
Steve Waugh: I think it’s great, in a way, that it (match-fixing) has come out and been exposed because, otherwise, it would have been like cancer eating away at the game.
Sachin Tendulkar: It’s a very simple thing: Concentrate on cricket and the rest will follow. Don’t choose the wrong avenues.
Shaun Pollock: There were some really great cricketers and to see their careers tarnished by what’s taken place is very sad.