Amidst all the anger and despondency at the news that Gulam Bodi has been charged with contriving to corrupt domestic T20 matches, we should not lose sight of the fact that Cricket South Africa and their anti-corruption officials have pounced on the former international so decisively.
In the wake of former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns’ astonishing acquittal, cricket administrators have realised that they have to tread methodically and precisely because the standards of evidence required to secure a criminal conviction are higher than they imagined.
CSA announced on November 6, just five days into the RamSlam T20 Challenge, that they had started an investigation into an international syndicate seeking to corrupt domestic games and then, on December 15, they revealed an “intermediary” had been charged.
That was after the conclusion of the T20 competition and much attention has fallen on the Cape Cobras’ bizarre loss to the Dolphins in the semi-final playoff in Durban. The visitors were on 154 for three in the 16th over, chasing 179, and somehow managed to lose by five runs.
It is known that there was considerable concern amongst the Cobras management in the wake of the defeat, but given the fact that all domestic players were by then aware that CSA was on to something, the finger of suspicion maybe should not rest on a team that perhaps merely suffered one of those inexplicable implosions that make cricket such a fascinating game.
The RamSlam T20 Challenge was apparently not the only competition to have been improperly interfered with: The season-opening Africa T20 Cup was allegedly where the nonsense started. It was a televised event, without much at stake, featuring some of the younger, and therefore more naïve, players on the domestic circuit – the perfect breeding ground for matchfixers.
And now Bodi has been named as the South African at the centre of it all.
The former KwaZulu-Natal, Titans, Highveld Lions and Delhi Daredevils cricketer, whose international appearances were restricted to three limited-overs games in 2007, was the type of player that calamity just seemed to follow around – his career was dotted with comical run outs, extraordinary ways of getting out and even off the field he would do things like rolling his cart on team golf days.
Now one wonders whether the bizarre luck was just that or something else, something more deliberate?
And that is the biggest damage done by the disease of matchfixing – the doubts over whether all the weird and wonderful things you have seen on the cricket field are real or contrived?
A batsman who swings so freely from the crease like Bodi did is likely to get out in “soft” fashion from time to time, but the player born in Hathuran, India, always struck me as being a little disgruntled.
He was forever talking up his own performances and complaining about not getting fair opportunities. This from one of the players who was chosen ahead of Kevin Pietersen in KZN – in the days when they were both considered spin-bowling prospects – thanks to efforts to give players of colour more opportunity.
But the three international caps were well-deserved because Bodi was once one of the most free-scoring, dangerous top-order batsmen in domestic cricket.
However, the danger will always exist that players who feel hard done by, who believe they are not getting their due, could turn to the “dark side”. Judging by the rumours of white players going on strike, there is currently a large group of dissatisfied franchise cricketers and that should be a grave concern for CSA.