Should a player being investigated for match-fixing continue as a star commentator? Outlook’s expose on the element of grey in the India-Pakistan match in the June 1999 World Cup and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram’s dubious role in it hasn’t forced espn to reconsider his contract as commentator.
To a specific query on whether it was right to continue with Akram when he was still being investigated by the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACU), espn’s associate director (corporate communications) Himangshu Verma told Outlook: "We would not like to comment on this issue. It’s still speculative." ESPN Software MD R.C. Venkatesh was unavailable for comment. Akram himself dodged calls from Outlook. Interestingly, Channel 4 terminated its contract with Akram when his name cropped up in Pakistan’s Qayyum judicial probe into match-fixing. Sami-ul-Hasan, general manager (media) of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), told Outlook from Peshawar that this was a matter to be sorted out between ESPN, the ACU and Akram.
According to the ACU the controversial June 8, 1999, match was fixed by Delhi-based punter Ratan Mehta with Akram’s assistance. The investigators have the testimony of a Delhi businessman to substantiate this charge. It was this businessman’s crucial statement to the ACU which revealed Akram and Indian skipper Mohammed Azharuddin’s alleged role in fixing the Indo-Pak World Cup match.
Though there has been no word from the PCB on the ACU’s confidential correspondence relating to the match, the unit’s senior investigator, Martin Hawkins, says: "I’ve confidence that the PCB will respond. The person who gave us that important testimony had genuine concerns."
By Murali Krishnan