All the commonwealth countries have two things in common. British and Cricket.
Cricket records the highest viewership with 2.2 billion people across the globe with a massive influx of money. As these numbers rise, so do the controversies attached to it.
Here are the untold stories behind the top Cricket Controversies of India.
- Match Fixing Scandal (1999-2000)
It all started on 7th April 2000 when Delhi police crime branch officer Ishwar Singh Redhu told about the recording he received with a conversation between Hansie Cronje and Sanjay Chawla (an Indian cricket bookie). The tape also revealed the names of 3 more South African players, Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom claiming their involvement.
The next day the South African Cricket board denied the charge on South African players and Hansie Cronje accepted the claim and told Ali Bacher that a London bookie offered him 10-15 k dollars.
On 28th April 2000, the investigation started in India with orders of the Indian government to CBI. The CBI was looking after it and received some information from Manoj Prabhakar on 4th May 2000, that Kapil Dev asked him to make India lose this match. He also affirmed that Sachin Tendulkar and Sanjay Manjrekar knew about this conversation. However, both of them denied it.
Manoj Prabhakar also carried out a sting operation but couldn’t prove anything, so BCCI banned his game, and the reason was false allegations.
On 7th June 2000, Herschelle revealed that Hansie offered him and Henry 15000 $ to perform badly in the upcoming match. Later that month, on 15 June 2000 Henry accepted the claim and also confessed that he was involved in match-fixing for a few years. He divulged all his contacts, therefore he was banned from playing or coaching cricket for the entire life.
Back in India, the inquiry was moving at its fastest pace. Income tax officials went to cricketers and other cricket officials’ homes on 20 July 2000.
31 October 2000, bookie M.K Gupta revealed the names of Indian players involved in match-fixing. Some other evidence too confirmed these names and finally, BCCI banned Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma for life.
Also banned Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar for 5 years. After a few years, this ban was resolved in one or the other way.
Later some of these cricketers turned to be coaches, anchors, or politicians.
2. Greg Chappell vs Sourav Ganguly (2005-2006)
The entire controversy comprises a series of incidents that occurred back in the year 2005. Greg Chappell became the coach of the Indian National Cricket Team. The first tournament under Greg’s mentorship was when India played Indian Oil Cup 2005 series in Sri Lanka and Sourav Ganguly was serving his 6 match ban by ICC. Rahul Dravid was leading the team as a captain.
In the test series against Zimbabwe, Ganguly was back for the series but the only concern for Chappell was, he did not score a single century in the last two years. Coach Chappell suggested he drop captaincy and focus on his game. Later in the test match, Ganguly was not involved in the playing 11. So, he started packing back to India. Then Dravid and Chappell convinced him to stay, he played the first test match and secured a century.
Soon after that test match, Ganguly made a comment to the media that he was being pressured to drop captaincy from some team officials. He did not particularly mark any name, the speculations directly pointed towards Chappell. However, he defended by saying “I can never pressurize anyone to do anything”.
Things were hardly solved, but an email rolled out to the media. The email was sent by Chappell to BCCI stating that Ganguly is just desperate to retain as captain in the team, his negative attitude has an adverse effect on the entire team. This incident made the public of Kolkata protest against Chappell.
Chappell then replaced the old players with the younger players and impressed selectors convincing them that Ganguly was not fit for ODI. In further tournaments Ganguly was not a part of the team and Dravid was appointed as captain of the team.
Soon Ganguly found himself out of both the teams which increased the aggression of Indian Cricket fans, there were debates in Parliament and many famous advertisements also supported Ganguly.
However, Ganguly ultimately came as a part of national 11 he performed well in the ODI and was called up for the India World Cup team 2007.
All this created pressure on Chappell and he resigned from his post as a coach of the team.
Some people say that Ganguly followed a wrong way and pressurized people to get back on the game, however to others this was the fair move to go with.
3. Mike Denness and Indian cricket team incident (2001)
This is yet another memorable controversy that drove six Indian players to feel guilty of various offenses during a test match between India and South Africa between 16 to 20 November.
It was the final day of the test match, Controversy occurred when Mike, a straightforward and firm cricket match referee who is also a former England player claimed 6 Indian cricketers guilty of various offenses during a single match.
Giving punishment to 6 players of one team in one match is something really unpredictable and a matter of controversy, especially in a country like India where cricket is much more than just a “game”, it is an emotion that ties up most of the Indians together.
Mike banned Sachin Tendulkar for the next match due to ball-tampering charges, he banned Virendra Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Shiv Sundar Das, and Deep Dasgupta for one test match due to excessive appearances. The sixth player suspended was Sourav Ganguly for one test match and two ODI due to the inability to control the behavior of his team.
This resulted in boosting the aggression of Indian Cricket lovers, a press conference was also organized where Mike failed to explain his actions and he was heavily criticized.
It led to considering the third match of the test series was deemed “unofficial” by ICC and Sehwag was made to serve his one-match ban.
4. Ravindra Jadeja and M.S Dhoni vs James Anderson (2001)
Is cricket a gentleman’s game?
As this controversy made everyone doubt, the incident happened during India versus England Test at Manchester. During the lunchtime of the first test match, James Anderson
And Ravindra Jadeja had a verbal quarrel. Reports also suggest that obnoxious language was used by Anderson. Jadeja and Dhoni also reciprocated in the same manner. The dispute started between Anderson and Jadeja. However, Dhoni showed up to defend Jadeja. Later, when Dhoni accepted the claim and punishments, he said: “I did something that was right and I stand for what is right and wrong”.
The controversy ended by deducting 50% of Jadeja’s match fee, and Anderson was fined with a level 3 charge, because of obscene language and physical incident.
The Indian team was not satisfied by the verdict and punishments and they confirmed that Jadeja was not involved in any foul language or physical fight. However, because of a lack of evidence. Nothing could be done.
5. Monkeygate controversy at Sydney (2008)
The incident happened during the 2008 India-Australia test match series. The controversy is popularly known as the “monkey gate scandal”. The match started with Australia winning the toss and choosing to bat first. They scored 263 in the first innings.
It was now India’s turn to bat, things went smooth till India scored 345/7 and Harbhajan came to play. Sachin completed a century and Harbhajan made 50 runs, however, Harbhajan was continuously Insisting Sachin about the number of Overs that Andrew Symonds was trying to sled, and said it’s making him feel annoyed.
Later that moment Andrew Symonds claimed that Harbhajan called him “Monkey”. Australian captain Ricky Ponting informed the umpire.
After a month of the hearing was conducted, the racism charge was not confirmed. So it ended up charging 50% of match fee deduction. Andrew was not satisfied with the judgment and wanted to fight again.
Ricky Ponting in an interview claimed that he was tarnished at that moment as he could not control it, Ponting also said that the monkey gate scandal was the lowest point in his career.
6. Asia Cup (2010)
A single match and two controversies between four cricketers, two Indian and two Pakistani. Well! Both incidents happened to be verbal conflicts during the match.
- Gautam Gambhir and Kamran Akmal- Gambhir claimed that Akmal started playing mind games during the match and that was annoying Gambhir. He also said if umpire and M.S Dhoni did not come to stop him, it could have been worse.
Both the cricketers were renowned in their work, but just a flame of misunderstanding would’ve burned it all. However, it was just a little-known incident that didn’t become a big controversy.
- Harbhajan Singh and Shoaib Akhtar- When it comes to India and Pakistan, the match turns to be full of incidents. So another incident that happened in the same match was a quarrel between Harbhajan Singh and Shoaib Akhtar. And all this happened in a 50 over match. It was 49th over when Harbhajan Singh was batting and Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar was bowling. The reports suggest that Shoaib started with some verbal conflict as Harbhajan missed a ball and then Harbhajan too continued with the same. However, Harbhajan made it and India won the match. But the dispute later turned out to be among the popular controversies.
- Gautam Gambhir and Shahid Afridi controversy (2007)
An ODI, with a fine and enthusiastic day. Gambhir was running down the pitch to complete his run and crashed with Afridi which led to a dispute. The verbal conflict ultimately led umpire Lan Gould to intervene and dissolve it. He had to separate the two warring players and the players were fined 95% (Afridi) and 65% (Gambhir) of their match fees.
The controversy later moved to political disputes via twitter. Afridi also marked in his biography that he does not like Gambhir and feels that he is not a positive person.
- Harbhajan Singh slap Sreesanth (2008)
Talking about disputes, how can we miss the controversy held during IPL between Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth.
It happened when Harbajan Singh was the captain of one of the leading teams of IPL, Mumbai Indians. The game was not going in their favor and everyone was questioning his decisions.
Already under much pressure, Bhajji couldn’t bear a sarcastic greeting by Sreesanth and slapped him.
This incident led to suspending Harbhajan from the entire season and the captaincy was given to Shaun Pollock until Sachin Tendulkar rejoined.
Although, Harbhajan always regretted what happened and apologized to Sreesanth many times.
- Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul suspension (2019)
All of us are big fans of “Koffee with Karan” and we are sure you must be familiar with the controversy that led to Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s suspension.
The incident happened on January 6, 2019, when the show featuring the duo was aired where they made sexist and racist comments. Talking about their personal lives, they went on to pass misogynistic slurs which drew the ire of BCCI and led to their temporary suspension from Cricket on 11th January.
As their image was at stake, Pandya apologized to his fans via social media but it didn’t quite put out the fire. The team also heavily criticized them, and Harbhajan in an interview even said that he would not even like to travel on the same bus as the two of them. All of this also led the BCCI to consider the participation of players in Non-Cricket Shows.
- Virat’s dispute with a Journalist (2016)
The incident happened after India lost the world cup to Australia when one of the news reporters blamed Anushka Sharma as a reason for India losing the world cup. The news reports displeased Virat and resulted in a verbal fight.
This led to Virat abusing one of the senior journalists named Jaswinder Sidhu. However, he later apologized to him personally and said that he had accused the wrong person and also didn’t mean what he said.
Later BCCI revealed a statement quoting “The BCCI would like to request the concerned parties to move on, and focus on the Indian cricket team’s campaign in the ongoing ICC CWC 2015”
And things went back to track.
The stories above reveal the face of the cricket industry in India which we don’t like to talk about. Depravity, however, is by no means a problem, It is a universal phenomenon. This doesn’t mean that we need to learn to live with it as it hinders progress.
It Is the rust in the cogwheels of any system, eventually leading to a breakdown. As world leaders of Sports, today we can only hope to keep progressing if we keep a check on these issues.