Explained: Sanjeev Chawla, Cronje & the 2000 Match-Fixing Scandal

The match-fixing saga in 2000 was a watershed moment on how corruption is now dealt in world cricket.

Updated
Cricket
3 min read
Sanjeev Chawla is the alleged mastermind of the match-fixing saga in 2000. The case was a watershed moment on how corruption is now dealt in world cricket.
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Snapshot

Sanjeev Chawla, an alleged bookie and a key conspirator of the 2000 match-fixing scandal that rocked the cricketing world was on Friday, 14 February, granted interim relief by Delhi High Court. He landed in New Delhi on Thursday after his extradition from United Kingdom.

The match-fixing saga had seen names of several top cricketers of South Africa, including former skipper Hansie Cronje, emerge at the turn of the century. The snowball effect had seen several cricket boards join in and take active steps towards dealing with corruption in their respective boards – a move that ultimately ended the career of former India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.

Explained: Sanjeev Chawla, Cronje & the 2000 Match-Fixing Scandal

  1. 1. How Was the Controversy Unearthed?

    In April 2000, a call was intercepted by Delhi Police between Sanjeev Chawla and then South African captain Cronje, in which it was revealed that the cricketer had accepted money in exchange for losing a few international matches.

    Delhi Police were keeping a track on Chawla initially, in relation to an extortion case, when they intercepted the call with Cronje. Although he denied the allegations initially, he admitted to his role on 11 April to the board’s managing director Ali Bacher, following which he was sacked as the team’s captain.

    In front of the King Commission, which was set up in South Africa to probe the scandal, several other cricketers, including Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje testified against Cronje, stating that the latter had indeed approached them to underperform in matches.

    Expand
  2. 2. What Was Chawla’s Role?

    Chawla was the alleged bookie who had constantly stayed in touch with Cronje throughout South Africa’s tour of India in 2000.

    According to reports, the frequency of calls increased rapidly every time a match approached. Investigations later revealed that Chawla stayed back at the same hotel in Mumbai as that of the South African team.

    After the scandal broke, Chawla fled to the United Kingdom. In 2013, Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against Chawla and named Cronje (who died in a plane crash in 2002) in it as well.

    After India’s request for his extradition in 2016, Chawla was arrested in London. However, the following year, he won a case in a UK court in which he questioned the security and other facilities in Indian jails.

    However, in 2018, a lower court dismissed the judgment and ordered for the extradition procedure to restart. Chawla then filed another case challenging the order, but it was turned down last month.

    Expand
  3. 3. The Investigation

    Cronje had broken down in front of the King’s Commission, admitting that he had taken money from bookies to fix matches. The revelation came after he was offered immunity in exchange for complete information on his role regarding the match-fixing scandal.

    With several cricketers testifying against Cronje and other evidences, authorities concluded Cronje’s role as a fixer. It also led to several cricket boards, including the BCCI and PCB, to probe corruption in their setups.

    The aftermath saw the likes of Azharuddin (life) and Ajay Jadeja (five years) handed bans after they were found to be involved in match-fixing as well.

    Expand
  4. 4. Key Cricketers Who Were Involved

    In October later that year, the United Cricket Board of South Africa banned Cronje for life from all cricketing activities. The former skipper had already announced his retirement by then. Gibbs and Henry Williams also faced sanctions – banned till the end of that year.

    While both Gibbs and Williams admitted they had been offered money by the skipper in the past, Nicky Boje, who was named by the Delhi Police in the investigation, said he was shocked by the development.

    He also skipped the tour to India in 2004, fearing he might be detained by the Delhi Police. Pieter Strydom, whose name had surfaced in the controversy and was later acquitted, had also stated Cronje approached him to underperform.

    Expand
  5. 5. The Aftermath

    The match-fixing saga in 2000 led to several key developments in the sport with corruption being dealt with in a serious manner for the first time. Besides cricket boards of the sub-continent, the Australian Cricket Board also set up an independent panel to investigate match-fixing claims.

    South African umpires Cyril Mitchley and Rudi Koertzen also stepped forward and admitted they had been approached in the past to influence match results. Names like that of Brian Lara got involved for placing individual bets on players’ performances as well.

    He was, however, later deemed innocent. Investigations were also opened for venues such as Sharjah to probe match-fixing scandals. In Kenya, Maurice Odumbe was banned for five years after it was learnt he received money from bookies as well. The scandal, thus, truly marked a watershed moment in the sport, albeit a tainted one.

    Expand

How Was the Controversy Unearthed?

In April 2000, a call was intercepted by Delhi Police between Sanjeev Chawla and then South African captain Cronje, in which it was revealed that the cricketer had accepted money in exchange for losing a few international matches.

Delhi Police were keeping a track on Chawla initially, in relation to an extortion case, when they intercepted the call with Cronje. Although he denied the allegations initially, he admitted to his role on 11 April to the board’s managing director Ali Bacher, following which he was sacked as the team’s captain.

In front of the King Commission, which was set up in South Africa to probe the scandal, several other cricketers, including Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje testified against Cronje, stating that the latter had indeed approached them to underperform in matches.

What Was Chawla’s Role?

Chawla was the alleged bookie who had constantly stayed in touch with Cronje throughout South Africa’s tour of India in 2000.

According to reports, the frequency of calls increased rapidly every time a match approached. Investigations later revealed that Chawla stayed back at the same hotel in Mumbai as that of the South African team.

After the scandal broke, Chawla fled to the United Kingdom. In 2013, Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against Chawla and named Cronje (who died in a plane crash in 2002) in it as well.

After India’s request for his extradition in 2016, Chawla was arrested in London. However, the following year, he won a case in a UK court in which he questioned the security and other facilities in Indian jails.

However, in 2018, a lower court dismissed the judgment and ordered for the extradition procedure to restart. Chawla then filed another case challenging the order, but it was turned down last month.

The Investigation

Cronje had broken down in front of the King’s Commission, admitting that he had taken money from bookies to fix matches. The revelation came after he was offered immunity in exchange for complete information on his role regarding the match-fixing scandal.

With several cricketers testifying against Cronje and other evidences, authorities concluded Cronje’s role as a fixer. It also led to several cricket boards, including the BCCI and PCB, to probe corruption in their setups.

The aftermath saw the likes of Azharuddin (life) and Ajay Jadeja (five years) handed bans after they were found to be involved in match-fixing as well.

Key Cricketers Who Were Involved

In October later that year, the United Cricket Board of South Africa banned Cronje for life from all cricketing activities. The former skipper had already announced his retirement by then. Gibbs and Henry Williams also faced sanctions – banned till the end of that year.

While both Gibbs and Williams admitted they had been offered money by the skipper in the past, Nicky Boje, who was named by the Delhi Police in the investigation, said he was shocked by the development.

He also skipped the tour to India in 2004, fearing he might be detained by the Delhi Police. Pieter Strydom, whose name had surfaced in the controversy and was later acquitted, had also stated Cronje approached him to underperform.

The Aftermath

The match-fixing saga in 2000 led to several key developments in the sport with corruption being dealt with in a serious manner for the first time. Besides cricket boards of the sub-continent, the Australian Cricket Board also set up an independent panel to investigate match-fixing claims.

South African umpires Cyril Mitchley and Rudi Koertzen also stepped forward and admitted they had been approached in the past to influence match results. Names like that of Brian Lara got involved for placing individual bets on players’ performances as well.

He was, however, later deemed innocent. Investigations were also opened for venues such as Sharjah to probe match-fixing scandals. In Kenya, Maurice Odumbe was banned for five years after it was learnt he received money from bookies as well. The scandal, thus, truly marked a watershed moment in the sport, albeit a tainted one.

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