Monday, April 4, 2016

TNCA League Match Fixing from the 1980s

How the fate of a cricket match was turned around during a Luncheon Discussion at Chepauk

If you thought match fixing in cricket was a phenomenon of the Azhar and Hansie Cronje era, here’s a glimpse into what took place in the decade prior to that in the renowned first division TNCA league here in Madras. This is neither a one-off event nor one of the most significant episodes on this front to warrant a separate stand alone story. In fact, this was a very 'soft way' to turn around a match.

And yet this match involving two of the biggest clubs in 1st division history and two of the biggest names in TN cricket at that time gives an indication of the goings-on in the club circuit at that time. And may probably also be one of the many reasons why we have constantly struggled at higher levels of cricket.

It was a match in the mid 1980s at Chepauk between two several decades old clubs, both supported by leading, large corporate groups.

The first team were in the top half of the table but had no intention of going after the coveted title. The team scored 250+ in their first innings. The team batting 2nd (one of the most popular teams in the first division league with a long list of India stars in its fold during its period of existence) had been promised an all inclusive all paid trip to Singapore and Hongkong if they won the Palayampatti shield that year.

At lunch on day two, the team batting second were struggling at 160/7 when the captain of their team, a former India player and a well known ‘deal maker’ walked into the opposition dressing room at Chepauk. Prior to the lunch break, two seasoned spinners, both of whom narrowly missed playing for the country, were turning the ball square, had tied the opposition down and bagged wickets in pairs.

Two Top Bowlers don't bowl through the 2nd session!!!
Post this ‘secretive’ luncheon discussion, things changed dramatically as the two star bowlers gave way and did not bowl. Two part time bowlers (one of whom also bowled part time for India and took wickets for the country!!!) bowled 'ordinary stuff' to give away the first innings lead. Both the teams comprised of international players as well as top Ranji stars of that decade.

The 2nd team went on to win the Palayampatti shield that year and the entire squad went on that promised fully all paid for overseas trip (the flight ticket itself would have cost around Rs. 80000 in those days).

When the sponsor of the first team, one from a renowned traditional corporate family of Tamil Nadu came to know of this much later, he was utterly shocked and expressed his unhappiness to the team management and was disappointed till the very end of his life that this kind of a ‘deal’ had happened with his team.

The youngsters in the 1st team who saw this were totally disillusioned by the happenings inside the dressing room and the subsequent turn of events that it disturbed them mentally in that phase of life - the fact that something like this could happen in cricket, a game that they had taken up as a passion and to exhibit their talent.

(also read: 


Anonymous said...

Where is the proof? What's the source? Else makes for good reading and nothing more!

Prabhu.S said...

Sir/ Madam,

Even to post a comment and to ask a question and proof, you are doing it as Anonymous instead of asking it with an identity!!!

The proof is there in the story.

This story was not intended to make just Good Reading but to show that matches were 'set up' even locally in the highest grade of cricket here in the city even by players of international stature.

And that those who had a great overseas vacation that summer did not do so on merit of performance!!!


Anonymous said...

Very bad Sir.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant as usual Prabhu !!

Anonymous said...

haha people are asking you for 'proof'

Anonymous said...

Very disturbing history for a gentleman’s game.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Yes they have asked for proof. But like I mentioned in my reply above, the proof is there in the story - How the game was played Pre Lunch and Post Lunch.

In the 80s, it escaped the roving eye because there was no monitoring. It was still looked at as a Gentleman's game and everyone believed that.

Such play would not be possible in the 1st Division today because immediately within hours questions would be raised and enquiries conducted.


Anonymous said...

Very Interesting....

You won't reveal teams and names? :)

PRabhu S said...

Bombay Cricketer Sir,

The names and teams are there in the story:

1. The two teams were supported by two leading Corporate Groups of Madras and for decades!!!

2. One team (in the 1980s) was captained by a former India player and the other team had an India Great.