New Delhi: The father of the former Delhi age-group cricketer, caught in the Ashes spot-fixing controversy, says his son has never been to England or Australia, let alone fix matches involving the two countries.
In a sting operation conducted by British tabloid The Sun, Sobers Joban, along with another alleged bookie Priyank Saxena, are seen claiming that they can fix Ashes Test in lieu of £140,000. However, the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit has clarified that there has not been any evidence of corruption in the ongoing Test in Perth.
“My son has never been to UK or Australia and they are claiming that he could have fixed an Ashes Test,” Baljeet Joban said. “...he only goes to Dubai and Russia. Russia, because he has a Russian girlfriend whom he will marry,” added Joban Sr, who runs the Lal Bahadur Shastri Coaching Centre. His club is located in Vikaspuri.
“Right now, I am not letting Sobers speak to anyone. No one from ICC ACU has contacted us,” he informed.
In the sting, Joban was seen with Saxena, who was hauled up by cops last year for an alleged fraud case wherein the
latter had promised to get a woman cricketer a break in a state team.
Reacting to this Baljeet said: “I can’t keep track of everything that my adult son does. I don’t know about his friends’ circle. All I know that all this is part of a larger conspiracy.”
Baljeet is one among the innumerable regulars seen hanging around with powers that be in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) at the Feroz Shah Kotla. He had been an administrative manager of various Delhi age-group teams (U-19 and U-15) with the blessings of former DDCA president Sneh Bansal, a former BCCI vice-president.
Bansal, incidentally, was removed after allegations surfaced that he was involved in financial irregularities in the DDCA to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore.
In the DDCA circles, some old timers, who had seen his son Sobers play in the league and also during age-group trials, recall him as a below par cricketer. “Joban used his influence and got him selected in the Delhi U-23 team back in 2007-08. He was below average. He played age-group cricket for Himachal Pradesh. Both father and son are big mouths known to make tall claims,” a senior DDCA official said.
When Joban Sr was quizzed about his son’s cricketing talent, he accused the DDCA of destroying his career. “DDCA finished my son’s career. He played a match against Himachal Pradesh in the U-23 tournament. Since he had earlier played for HP at U-15, U-17 and U-19 levels, he was booed and he got out. Bacche ko phir kabhi khilaya hi nahi,” Joban said.
What many in Delhi cricket circuit feel is that Sobers, like his father, may have been making tall claims that got him into trouble. “I am fully convinced that neither Sobers nor Baljeet knows any top Ranji cricketer leave alone India player. They may get an odd selfie for FB post. I don’t think this fellow would know any England or Australia player,” the senior DDCA official said.
“But if he is that small fry or a pawn in a bigger conspiracy or was acting as a conduit for bookmakers or fixing syndicate, he needs to be probed by the ACU,” he added.
In recent weeks, no fewer than three international captains have reported suspicious approaches to the ACU. Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed have both been reported as rebuffing approaches.
Anti-corruption investigations have brought bans for numerous players, with life bans being handed to Lou Vincent (New Zealand), Sreesanth (India) and Danish Kaneria (Pakistan) over the past four years. South Africa’s Thami Tsolekile, was banned for 12 years in 2016 for “contriving to fix” in the Ram Slam T20 tournament.