First things first. Former team manager Sunil Dev’s claim that MS Dhoni fixed the Old Trafford Test against England in 2014 is nothing more than his opinion.
In the video shot as part of a sting operation by Hindi publication Sun Star, Dev provides no evidence to back up his assertion aside from Dhoni choosing to bat first instead of bowl first, which Dev said the team had agreed to do before the toss.
But again, we only have his word for it.
In any case, the toss is a judgement call. Could it be a suspicious one? Sure. But we need more evidence before we can decide if this one stinks or not.
What is of greater concern is what the BCCI did with the report Dev said he submitted personally to then BCCI president N Srinivasan. Part of a tour manager’s job is to be the eyes and ears of the board and report anything fishy or untoward back to the powers that be. If he put his allegations down on paper and the BCCI subsequently buried it, that’s a bigger problem than Dev's allegations about Dhoni choosing to bat on supposed bowler-friendly conditions.
In the past, the board has been careful to avoid looking too hard, just in case it doesn’t like what it saw. You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what the CBI said about the BCCI in 2000 in its report on match-fixing:
“Although, there is no concrete evidence to suggest the direct involvement of any of the members of the BCCI in match fixing, their resolute indifference does give rise to suspicion that there was perhaps more than that meets the eye. It defies credulity to believe that the apex body was oblivious to such rampant match fixing and, therefore, did not find the need to investigate thoroughly the results of matches which are patently questionable.”
Of course, the existence of this report submitted by Dev will likely be impossible to prove. He claims he wrote it out in Srinivasan’s office, so if there is a copy, then there was only ever one copy and the only people who could corroborate Dev’s story are unlikely to be forthcoming on the matter.
However, there is another report that we do know exists but seems to have been forgotten. Dev’s comments are a timely reminder that the Justice Mudgal Committee submitted the names of thirteen people in a sealed envelope to the Supreme Court of India back in November 2014. In the course of their investigation, allegations of corruption were made against these unnamed individuals, one of whom we learned later was Srinivasan.
Aditya Verma, the secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar and the man whose court case was the first puff of breeze that eventually turned into the gale that now threatens to blow away the BCCI as we know it, has repeatedly asked for the court to investigate these allegations. The court has declined to pass an order on the issue.
Back in August, the Supreme Court left it to the three-member Justice Lodha Committee to decide whether or not to take action.
"If the Committee wants to look into it without affecting the image and reputation of some persons, it can consider it," the bench of Justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifulla said at the time.
The Lodha Committee subsequently produced its seminal report on the state of Indian cricket last month and has proposed a slew of reforms that will remake the board from the bottom up. But there is no mention of the names in the sealed envelope.
Surely, if no investigation is going to take place, then the public deserves an explanation as to why. The matter shouldn’t simply be allowed to die, as so many others have done in the past.
Back in 2012, a sting by India TV claimed that spot-fixing was taking place in the IPL and players were being paid under the table by their franchises. The BCCI acted against the five players implicated in the video, but chose not to investigate further and absolved the franchises because of the eminence of their owners.
“All the franchises are people of stature behind it," Srinivasan said. “It will be wrong to presume they are doing something wrong and then make enquiries.”
Their reputation, like those of the names in the list, apparently preceded them.
Then, in 2013, the spot-scandal involving Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan rocked the league and the fallout led to the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for two years, and the Lodha Committee report.
Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.