One of Bangladesh cricket’s mega stars, Shakib Al Hasan’s frequent interactions with an Indian bookmaker, and his failure to report the ‘approach’ for inside information to the ICC, has resulted in him being banned for two years. Further strengthening India’s link to the latest cricket corruption saga was the mention of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the bookmaker’s WhatsApp messages to Shakib, who was then playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The ICC identified the bookie as Deepak Aggarwal, an individual known to its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and suspected of involvement in corruption in cricket. He is said to have interacted with Shakib between November 2017 and April 2018, and instigated him to provide inside information. None of these approaches were reported by Shakib to the ACU or any other anti-corruption authority, which is considered a breach of the ICC code.
Half of Shakib’s sentence will be suspended, depending on the player’s conduct during the first half of the sentence. If he complies with all regulations of ICC’s anti-corruption code, Shakib can return to action on October 29, 2020. Apart from the upcoming tour of India, he is likely to miss a large part – if not all – of next year’s ICC World T20 in Australia and the 2020 IPL.
Shakib, Bangladesh’s Test and T20 captain, has been charged with interacting with Aggarwal on several occasions on WhatsApp. The latter first instigated Shakib to provide inside information during the January 2018 tri-series between Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. In a relevant WhatsApp message, Aggarwal asks the all-rounder “do we work in this or I wait til the IPL”. The BCCI’s T20 franchise league was to take place in a few months’ time.
In a few days, Shakib received another message saying “Bro anything in this series.”
During the IPL, on the day Sunrisers played Kings XI Punjab, Aggarwal texted Shakib asking whether a particular player would be in the XI.
Shakib, in his two interviews with the ACU in January and August this year, said that he did not accept or act upon any of the approaches he received from Aggarwal, in particular, did not provide any of the information asked for, and didn’t receive any money or any other benefit from him.
It was noted that Shakib had reported an illegal approach to an anti-corruption official in 2008 or 2009.
With a career spanning 56 Tests, 206 ODIs and 76 T20Is, Shakib is undoubtedly the highest-profile player caught by the ICC’s ACU. He has been consistently ranked the best all-rounder in various formats of the game and among the most sought-after players for franchise leagues around the world. Recently, the 32-year-old was in the forefront of a players’ strike in Bangladesh, where cricketers demanded more money and facilities from the country’s board.
The previous major corruption scandals involving top cricketers were either unearthed by police (eg. 2000 match-fixing case or the 2013 IPL spot-fixing case) or the media (eg. 2010 spot-fixing scandal on Pakistan’s tour of England).
During the conversation on the day of the IPL game, “Aggarwal continued this conversation with him (Shakib) by talking about bitcoins, dollar accounts and asked him for his dollar account details. During this conversation, the cricketer told Aggarwal that he wanted to meet him “first”.
Clear malafide intent
According to the ICC, the approaches were “clear in their content and intent”.
Shakib told the ACU that he had concerns about Aggarwal, feeling he was a bit “dodgy”, and that following their conversations, was of the view that he was a bookie.
“Shakib Al Hasan is a highly experienced international cricketer. He has attended many education sessions and knows his obligations under the Code. He should have reported each of these approaches,” ICC general manager (integrity) Alex Marshall said.
“Shakib has accepted his errors and cooperated fully with the investigation. He has offered to assist the Integrity Unit in future education, to help younger players to learn from his mistakes. I am happy to accept this offer.”
The player concerned accepted the charge, which means there will be no hearing or appeal.
“I am obviously extremely sad to have been banned from the game I love, but I completely accept my sanction for not reporting the approaches. The ICC ACU is reliant on players to play a central part in the fight against corruption and I didn’t do my duty in this instance,” Shakib said in the ICC release.
“Like the majority of players and fans around the world, I want cricket to be a corruption-free sport and I am looking forward to working with the ICC ACU team to support their education programme and ensure young players don’t make the same mistake I did.”
Board plays safe
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), which was at loggerheads with Shakib during the players’ strike said that while it was disappointed with his conduct, it will provide him all assistance for a successful return to the game when eligible.
“BCB had nothing to do with it, neither did any of us know. The ACSU, which did this investigation since January, was done independently of the ICC. We only knew that they contacted Shakib, so we just heard the verdict,” BCB president Nazmul Hassan said.
“While the BCB is shocked and extremely disappointed that an experienced player like Shakib had failed to report corrupt approach on three occasions, at the same time we are pleased that he has cooperated fully with the ICC ACU and has pledged his commitment to its education programme,” a BCB statement said. “We hope he will come back as a better and wiser cricketer and serve Bangladesh for many more years when his sanction will be over. During the suspension, the BCB will continue to support his efforts at returning to cricket.”
Bitcoins and dollar accounts were discussed over Whatsapp
Bangladesh Test and T20 skipper Shakib al Hasan failed to report three separate approaches by an alleged Indian bookie. The player, during an interview with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, confirmed and elaborated on his interactions with the bookie.
The first interaction between the alleged bookie and Shakib took place in mid-November of 2017 during the Bangladesh Premier League. Shakib was playing for Dhaka Dynamites. The all-rounder says a person who was known to him had provided his number to Aggarwal. In the same month, Shakib told the ICC’s ACU, that he had exchanged Whatsapp messages with Aggarwal. He also said that Aggarwal wanted to meet him.
‘Do we work in this’
In January 2018, the alleged bookie and Shakib once again were in communication over Whatsapp during the tri-series in Dhaka which involved Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. On January 19, Aggarwal congratulated Shakib for being named man of the match (67 runs and 3/47 vs Sri Lanka). However, Shakib told the ACU that Aggarwal send this message following the congratulatory message: “Do we work in this or wait til (sic) the IPL.”
The reference to work was about providing inside information.
‘Bro anything in this series’
Aggarwal and Shakib continued to stay in touch during the tri-series. On January 23, the alleged bookie made another approach to Shakib for inside information. “Bro anything in this series,” the WhatsApp message said.
The IPL approach
Shakib was playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad during the IPL when bookie Aggarwal contacted him on April 26, 2018. In the Whatsapp message, Aggarwal wanted to know if a particular cricketer was going to play the game. Aggarwal also asked Shakib for his ‘dollar account’ and spoke about bitcoins. Shakib, during this conversation, said that he wants to meet Aggarwal ‘first’. In this particular match against Kings XI Punjab, Shakib made 28 off 29 balls batting first. He also took two wickets and gave away 18 runs in three overs.
Some of the messages on April 26 which were about Aggarwal asking for ‘inside information’ were deleted by Shakib. The Bangladesh captain confirmed to the ACU that he had indeed deleted some messages.