Book Review : Will compel you think, “Should I be thinking about the Odds of India Losing today’s India-Australia WC T20 2016 Tie?… or is it already scripted! “.
I don’t remember reading a book as interesting yet depressing and; as informative yet disappointing as Fixed!: Cash and Corruption in Cricketby Shantanu Guha Ray.
It’s interesting with absolutely no lag through the entire 200 plus pages reading.
It’s depressing because it shatters many a icons we’ve adored as they turn out to be cons. It’s informative and deals with match fixing to spot fixing to the influence of underworld on the game as well as the entire political nexus. It’s disappointing because it leaves a lot of stories untouched, especially the Indian players who made match.
Shantanu Guha Ray, a journalist with a lot of things on his table does a great job of investigating into the betting mafia and narrates a totally binding story or rather multiple stories intertwined in one. But what he leaves out could have been more explosive.
There’s an elaborate Introduction to betting scandal, 14 Chapters on associated topics and a damning Epilogue.
It all starts with Introduction:
The Justice Lodha committee report on the 2013 spot fixing scandal that brought down Sreesanth and many others with him. As we progress, we realise Sreesanth isn’t even the small fish. He was just a worm caught in a net that was designed to let the big fish escape safely.
Chapter 1. Inside the world of Bookies:
Gives in depth introduction to Gurunath Meiyappan and other people arrested and prosecuted in 2013 IPL scandal.
Chapter 2. No One Killed Bob Woolmer:
Is a touching piece. It gives the background, the Pakistan’s 2007 World Cup debacle against Ireland and the death of Pakistan coach Woolmer same night. There are enough telltale evidences to suspect murder. But a power stronger than the Scotland Yard obviously didn’t want the truth to come out. Hence, “No one killed Bob Woolmer”.
Chapter 3. God says Hansie was killed:
This is about the fall and raise of Hansie Cronje before the final fall, which to date remains a mystery.
Chapter 4. Lahore’s Shame in London:
Tracks back the spot fixing story of Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir. It shows how the British courts have fared better than India or Pakistan, when it comes to corruption in Cricket.
Chapter 5. IPL Cash and Carry:
Talks about Shashi Tharoor, Sunanda Pushkar, Mehr Tarar, Lalit Modi and the ugly money that rules IPL.
Chapter 6. Main Kyun, asks Kaneria:
Unfortunate tale of Danish Kaneria and his fall from grace. It once again proves only the small fish get caught and fried.
Chapter 7. It’s Dhaka’s turn for Bad Cash:
Details the deep rooted malaise in entire Cricket world and the fall of Dhaka Tendulkar Mohammed Ashraful. A very sad tale of talent gone wrong again.
Chapter 8. What a Match:
Shattered me completely to read the Indian victory in 2011 World Cup was tainted and the India Vs Pakistan match was fixed. How deep is the hole the world of Cricket has dug itself into? I used to think those SMS alerts during the 2011 WC were just Spam. But it was in reality, a Scam.
Chapter 9. Who will clean the BCCI? :
The way things appear, I doubt if anyone can do anything.
Chapter 10. Mamus: Banjo to Bhais:
Starting from Hamid ‘Banjo’ Cassim, this chapter narrates the evolution of Bookies from 80s and 90s to present day. A really frightening evolution.
Chapter 11. Get Lost, Neo Sports:
Looks partly out of place in a book about ‘Fixing’. But it is connected and gives an account of the television broadcasting rights, the underhand dealings and why and how of Harish Thawani of Nimbus getting booted out by BCCI. It’s all about money, a whole lot of money.
Chapter 12. The Strange Case of Jagmohan Dalmiya:
The author has been mostly objective and seldom taken sides. Perhaps in this chapter, he appears more than eager to paint Dalmiya as completely clean. It’s true that Dalmiya was definitely the best Cricket administrator we had and he was extremely proud of Indian Cricket. But was he completely clean in the match fixing scandal of late 90s and early 2000s? We don’t know. But yes, he was the man who revolutionized Cricket and shifted the centre of power of Cricket from the west to east.
Chapter 13. The Mudgal Files: This chapter drops enough hints about many of our past and present day stars being pretty ordinary people, easily lured by the power of lucre. Disheartening indeed.
Chapter 14. Modi, the Carpet Bomber: Ever since NDA government came to power, one Modi has become a thorn in the flesh for the other. Lalit has blown hot and blown cold. But we definitely can conclude that nobody will be able to touch Lalit Modi without burning a substantial part of their own stables. The Lalit Modi story continues.
Epilogue further undermines the faith we had in our Cricket Gods. There are enough broad hints to let the reader know who was who in the sordid game.
All is well with the taut book. But where does the it fail ? Like the statistics in Cricket, it exposes a lot yet conceals the vital. It completely leaves out the Mohammad Azharuddin story. Kapil Dev is given a passing mention. Is the writer afraid to write about some ? Or does he want to bring out a separate volume dedicated to Indian players, Mohammad Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma ? We need to wait for that.
As of today, the author has strictly kept him within safe limits. That’s in some places taken names but only with court implicated people. But through out the book, you will find mostly the hints; OR the anonymous character sketches for you to guess who he’s referring to. But Dhoni gets mentioned twice for possible perjury (Lying under Oath).
Overall, FIXED ! CASH and CORRUPTION in CRICKET is easily one of the better books on Cricket, though it comes out as incomplete. I recommend this to everyone who loves Cricket and Cricketers. I also hope, somehow, the wonderful game manages to shrug off all the dirt and come clean, for the sake of millions of followers.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Details of the book:
FIXED ! CASH and CORRUPTION in CRICKET (March 1 2016)
Author: Shantanu Guha Ray
Published in India by Harper Sport, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Printed and bound at Thomson Press (India) Ltd
Price: Rs. 299/-