Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Executive Committee Chairman Najam Sethi had to step in after the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) investigation into the instances of spot-fixing during the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) pointed to involvement of a number of cricketers and senior officials of the board.
Five cricketers—Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Irfan, Shahzaib Hasan and Nasir Jamshed—were suspended from all formats of cricket following Sethi’s disclosure in February that he had reports of some players having links with bookmakers.
After the conclusion of the PSL, these “tainted” players were served notices and summoned for investigation by the PCB. Later, Sethi—who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) —announced that forensics of the mobile phones of the five cricketers would be carried out by the FIA to determine if they had contacts with bookmakers.
This turned the tables, as the FIA official, put in charge of investigations, besides calling the tainted players for questioning and putting them on the Exit Control List (ECL), also sought details of the players’ bank accounts and involved their friends and fellow cricketers for questioning.
Sensing trouble for many, the PCB then dispatched three letters to the FIA director general informing the agency that the board had only sought its help with the forensic examination of the cellphones.
According to an FIA source, the cricketers’ mobile phones were sent to the agency to harass them, but the situation turned upside down for senior PCB officials as the investigators dug deep into the matter.
The source said that a network of local bookmakers—working with the fixing syndicates in Mumbai—had parted into two: one bloc had the favour of senior PCB officials, while the second one had better links with cricketers.
“During the PSL, both the groups started making monetary benefits, but as the group backed by senior PCB officials suffered some losses, Nasir Jamshed and Sharjeel Khan were made scapegoats (to teach the other bloc a lesson),” he added.
“A baffled PCB had to ask the FIA to stop its inquiry and let the board inquire the spot-fixing allegations itself after many PCB officials, cricketers and bookmakers appeared on FIA radar during the preliminary investigation,” the FIA source said.
According to reports, India and South Africa are the two countries where bookmakers and fixing syndicates operate in a systematic way. This network is terribly influential and it is almost impossible for a cricketer to get out of its clutches.