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Thursday , November 3 , 2011
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Score: Delhi 4225*; London 159
*Our cops are still batting, 11 years on

August 29, 2010: London police confiscate the phones of three Pakistan cricket players after the News of the World expose on spot-fixing

February 4, 2011: Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service charge Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamer with two counts of conspiracy

November 1, 2011: Butt and Asif convicted. Formally disclosed that Aamer had pleaded guilty.


April 7, 2000: Delhi police make public the tapped conversation between South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje and an alleged bookie of Indian origin

November 1, 2011: Delhi police yet to file a chargesheet in the case.

Four thousand two hundred and twenty-five days are not enough for Delhi police to complete a job that London police did in 159 days. Another 270 days later, the UK court also delivered the first convictions of cricketers for rigging parts of a Test.

The Indian investigation is incomplete as the police are yet to arrest Sanjeev Chawla, the key accused and a London-based bookie who had allegedly offered Cronje money to fix matches.

The police have also not been able to question some of the South African cricketers involved in the case. In contrast, London police not only questioned the suspects but ensured that Butt, Aamer and Asif returned from Pakistan to face trial, although they were allowed to go home less then a fortnight after the scandal broke.

Chawla’s phone conversation with Cronje, which was tapped by Delhi police in March 2000, blew the lid off the scandal and confirmed the existence of the racket.

“We are still trying to extradite Chawla who is hiding in the UK. He is the main accused in the case that became one of the biggest scandals in cricketing history,” said an IPS officer who headed the probe then.

Displaying a keen sense of timing, the officer added to good measure: “After the conviction of the Pakistani cricketers, we are now planning to appeal to the court to announce Chawla as a proclaimed offender.”

The rest of the country may feel the case is as good as dead but the officer said the probe “is not complete and there are still some key gaps to be filled”.

Eleven years ago in 2000, the police had registered an FIR against Cronje, Chawla, Rajesh Kalra, a south Delhi-based businessman, Kishan Kumar, the late music baron Gulshan Kumar’s brother, and Sunil Dara, a Delhi-based bookie living in West Asia.

Kalra, Kumar and Dara were arrested but they were released on bail later after the police failed to file the chargesheet.

“The probe is on and the chargesheet is yet to be filed. The tragic death of Cronje also slowed the investigation process,” Asok Chand, the deputy commissioner (crime branch), told The Telegraph.

The former South African captain, who died in a plane crash in 2002, had received immunity from criminal prosecution in South Africa in exchange for his confession.

In 2006, Delhi police managed to question Herschelle Gibbs, the South African player who had been avoiding the investigators since the scandal broke in 2000. “During his interrogation at the crime branch office, he confirmed receiving offers twice to under-perform but said he never accepted them,” said an officer.

“We needed to look into Gibbs’s bank accounts to authenticate his claim of not taking money from Cronje. But the South African authorities did not help much,” the officer added.

Gibbs later wrote in his autobiography that Delhi police had intimidated him with the threat of death penalty.

The officer also blamed the delay on the inability to pick up Chawla. “The chargesheet cannot be filed on the available documents and evidence as we still do not have the complete information. Chawla’s questioning is very important to fill in the gaps and to reach a logical conclusion,” he said.

K.K. Paul, the then Delhi police commissioner, recalled: “This is the first time we exposed match-fixing in cricket. It was a shocking revelation and many people were not ready at that time to accept the hard truth. Initially, people had criticised the police for unnecessarily creating an issue out of nothing. But now with the conviction of the two Pakistani cricketers people have realised that we were on the right trail.”

The moral of the story came from Ian Botham. “Nothing has happened since (the Cronje scandal). I think the ICC have just sat on their hands and pretended it’s not there. Well, now they know it’s there so they have got to act,” Botham told Reuters.

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