ICC will probe Pune curator controversy

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched a probe after the curator in Pune was caught in a TV sting operation allegedly promising to manipulate the pitch ahead of Wednesday's second one-dayer between India and New Zealand.

By OUR BUREAU & AGENCIES
  • Published 26.10.17
  •  
Match Referee Chris Broad in Pune on Wednesday

Calcutta/Pune: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched a probe after the curator in Pune was caught in a TV sting operation allegedly promising to manipulate the pitch ahead of Wednesday's second one-dayer between India and New Zealand.

Pandurang Salgaonkar has been "dismissed" by the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) but the match went ahead as scheduled after ICC Match Referee Chris Broad cleared the pitch.

"We are investigating the allegations from Pune this morning," an ICC spokesman said. "As with all international cricket, the ICC anti-corruption unit has an ICC ACU manager on the ground in India and we are in close contact with him.

"We are now looking to establish the facts and will make no further comment while this is ongoing."

A TV channel showed Salgaonkar allegedly telling their undercover reporters - who posed as bookies - he could manipulate the pitch and share information about the playing surface in violation of ICC's anti-corruption code.

In the footage, the 68-year-old Salgaonkar is seen agreeing to tamper the pitch to suit the requirements put forth by the reporter. The channel claimed the video was shot on Tuesday evening.

"The MCA has dismissed Mr Salgaonkar from the position of curator with immediate effect," the BCCI said in a media release.

"The BCCI-appointed curator Ramesh Mhamunkar was immediately made the point person for the centre wicket and the field of play for the second ODI."

It is not clear how Salgaonkar, a former pacer, could have tweaked the pitch with just a few hours to go before the match.

What has left senior BCCI officials baffled is how Salgaonkar allowed a self-confessed bookie to accompany him to the main pitch. Under the BCCI rules, no unaccredited person, including journalists, are allowed near the pitch.

"The BCCI Anti Corruption Unit under Neeraj Kumar will have some answering to do. Here a random man comes, doesn't have an all-access area pass and is taken to the main pitch by the curator," a BCCI official said.

The BCCI has sought a detailed report from the MCA. "Strict action has been taken against the pitch curator and the employment relationship between Pandurang Salgaonkar and MCA stands terminated," BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri said in a statement.

"The BCCI is in touch with the MCA and appropriate measures will be taken with regards to the matter. The BCCI will continue to enforce strict measures in case of such misconduct in the future."

Amitabh Choudhary, acting BCCI secretary, said: "The BCCI has zero tolerance towards any activity that brings the game to disrepute. We have acted swiftly and ensured that there are no loopholes left."

Vinod Rai, chairman of the Committee of Administrators, was stern in his views and reiterated that a detailed inquiry will be initiated.

"We are looking into the issue and in contact with the concerned officials. We have asked for a detailed report and will act accordingly. At BCCI, we have zero tolerance towards any such activity."

Salgaonkar, a former Maharashtra pacer, was considered a genuine India prospect in early and mid 70s.

He toured with the Indian team for an unofficial series against Sri Lanka in 1974. He took 214 wickets in 63 first-class games.