Why the ace opener ‘pulled down the shutters’

The Indian media—print, electronic and digital—have approached the spot-fixing scam involving the Pakistan cricket team with the same jingoistic insouciance with which they greeted the match-fixing scandal 13 years ago. Which is, what did you expect from the damned Pakis? Of course not, our players are brought up well, they are clean.

Result: five days into the scandal, there is no sign of the Indian link except for a hapless photographer (Dheeraj Dixit) whom Mohammad Asif‘s ex-squeeze, Veena Malik, loquaciously accuses of being in link with her beau. No mention of an Indian hand in shady deals. No mention of IPL’s stunning potential for sex-drugs-scams.

It takes India’s #1 cricket writer, Prem Panicker, managing editor of Yahoo! India, to point out that spot-fixing, like match-fixing, isn’t quite a 21st century phenomenon but a 20th century one.

“There was once an opening batsman known as much for his impeccable technique as for his preternatural sense of the ebbs and flows, the rhythms, of Test cricket.

“The way he constructed an innings was both masterclass and template: the early watchfulness, the constant use of the well-placed single to get away from strike and go to the other end, from where he could observe the behaviour of pitch and bowler, the imperceptible change of gears and then, as the lunch interval loomed, the gradual down-shifting of gears as commentators marveled: ‘He is pulling down the shutters… he knows it is important not to give away his wicket just before the break… the onus is on him to return after the break and build his innings all over again… the man is a master of focus…’

“I followed along, on radio first and later, on television, and I marvelled along with the commentators, the experts. And then, years later, I heard a story — of how, when the toss went the way of his team and this opener went out to bat on the first day of a Test, a close relative would bet with not one, but several, bookies, about whether the batsman would get to 50 before lunch.

“Or not.

“‘So he would get to 45 or so, and there would be 20 minutes to go before lunch, and he would defend like hell, and all these experts would talk about how he is downing shutters for lunch when the fact was, there was a lot of money riding on his not getting 50 before the break,’ is a paraphrase of what one of the bookies who suffered from such well-placed bets said.”

Read the full article: We know it’s so, Joe

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Indians in spot fixing too?

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18 Responses to “Why the ace opener ‘pulled down the shutters’”

  1. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Huh? Without names, records, witnesses, or other evidence, this account — even when offered by a so-called #1 writer — is nothing but heresay. It is an example, simply, of poor journalism.

    It seems that Mr. Panicker’s skill in writing has enhanced his propensity to speculate. Critics such as him — who abuse their writing talent by engaging in speculative b/s with not a care for naming names, quoting witnesses verbatim, identifying sources, or using a logic of evidence — are partly responsible for catalyzing a cynical society in which none trusts anyone else. This sort of arrogant armchair journalistic drivel frequently targets India’s democratic processes, the liberal Hindu dharma, and the great sport of cricket.

    I am sorry, but as a reader I feel disrespected. Thanks to Mr. #1 Writer.

  2. babuds Says:

    It is no wonder that cricket and betting go hand in hand with players and officials fixing matches for suitable compensation.

    But the big surprise is the lady’s courage to announce, in the Islamic republic, that she is an ex lover (not ex-wife) of the cricketer caught with hands in the till. I sincerely wish that she will not be kidnapped and taken to the hinterlands and stoned to death for adultery.

  3. Narayana Says:

    This ace opener’s locker in a stadium where he was playing had huge amount of currency.
    11 years ago, when the first match fixing scandal broke out Sarfraz Nawaz had testified this ace opener was the one who started it all!!!

    Now I can connect the dots.

  4. cp Says:

    Err, fixing has been around since the 18th century.Even that pseudo-great, WG Grace, was an ace fixer of the 19th century.

  5. Kennedy Says:

    Veena Mailk’s website is good

  6. VinayC Says:

    This ex-opener & one more ex player who was implicated in match fixing scandal are current cricket experts….

  7. Naveen Says:

    @Mysore Peshva,
    Please read Prem’s full article before coming to this conclusion. What Prem clearly mentions is that he is not alleging that this happened. But just the very reason that this rumor is floating around since the early days of cricket in India, it becomes difficult even for the hardcore fan of keeping a straight face while saying that the current events are just part of the Pakistan cricket and nothing to do with us or cricket for that matter. To name any names, one needs provable facts in the court, and Prem is no fool to put names without proof. This is a story that may or may not have happened, but its very existence makes one cynical of the sport that one loves so much.
    I also blame churmuri in not laying out the context of Prem’s piece – the core message that Prem’s article conveys, and just putting the juicy bits.
    No wonder, how the TV channels manage to mint money through similar half reports, with so much of ‘jump-to-easy-conclusions-without-verifying’ people we seem to produce!

  8. karihaida Says:

    Those who took the bet against the ace opener deserved it I guess … that too in our country where betting is illegal. He and others like him, infact should be rewarded for fecking people indulging in illegal betting. The gov’t should infact support spot fixing and match fixing to deter people from betting on sports :)

    @Mysore Peshva,
    Well said Sir.

  9. Vishwas Krishna Says:

    I agree with Naveen. Unless you read the full article (and also the comments), you won’t get the clear picture of what the writer is trying to convey.
    @Naveen And the juicy bit part was nicely put.

  10. rastrakoota Says:

    The Ace opener is perhaps also THE voice of cricket in India!

  11. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana Says:

    Incidents and photos without date and accounts like this without names involved make little sense and it is well off without writing.

  12. Narayana Says:

    Bapuji… for your benefit.

    There is only one ex opener of India whose locker had Rs. 75 lacs .. Imagine the value of that money now…It is probably like Rs 3 Crore in current day terms..

    This ex opener captained four matches in 1979-80 home series against Pakistan when the allegations and rumors about fixing surfaced..Specifically in Bombay match as testified by Sarfraz Nawaz to Pakistan cricket board.

    Connect the dots.. to get to the “Sunny” side.

  13. Faldo Says:

    Just reading this portion from Prem’s article without reading the rest of it, might lead one to different conclusions. It might have been better to lay down the context of the article before pasting the juicier bits of it.

    From a purely cricketing viewpoint, even if the so called ace opener were to down his shutters, would this imply that the opposing bowlers, captains and fielders and the player on the other end were ready to down their shutters as well? This makes it hard to believe. Mind you when we talk of Tests, we are talking about some of the fastest, hardest and shrewdest players in the business.

    As others pointed out, this is only a rumor and deserves to be treated as such.

  14. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Lancha, hafta, hazri, rishwath, baksheesh etc., are our way of life. Why get so worked up about it.

    This incident will also pass like the past ones involving Azhar, Kapil Dev, Manoj Prabhakar, Jadeja, most of the Pakistani team etc.

    Prem Panicker would be a bookie if he weren’t making good money writing drivel about the game.

  15. Raghavendra Says:

    Hello Anonymous Guy,

    As far as I remember Kapil Dev’s name did not appear during match fixing saga,

  16. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Raghavendra:
    http://www.cricinfo.com/india/content/story/105839.html

    Also do an internet search – you should get more stuff.

    I cant forget the image of Kapil bawling like a baby on TV.

  17. murty Says:

    Dont know about the spot fixing, but veena malik sounds like or rather is the Rakhi Sawant of Pakistan!

  18. Rishi Gajria Says:

    Great to see a blog by a fellow Bombayite. Prem Panicker is obviously speaking about Sunil Gavaskar and the person making the bet is his uncle Madhav Mantri. Why he does not mention him by name, mention his source for this information is beyond me.

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