The recent revelations from Brendan Taylor, a former Zimbabwe skipper, has once again brought the topic of spot-fixing to the forum. The wicket-keeper batsman is facing the possibility of a multi-year ban from ICC for delayed reporting of the approach by six Indian bookies for corrupt practices. The cricketer, on Monday, released a statement via Twitter alleging that he was blackmailed and threatened by a businessman in India to fix an international game.
According to the former cricketer, the incident occurred in 2019, when Zimbabwe cricket was facing financial strains and players were not sure of their payments from the board. While the offer made by bookies was so lucrative that Taylor could not deny it, but immediately visited India to meet them, and the rest of the event followed. The allegations made by the former cricketer shook the cricketing fraternity, and once again, the issue of spot-fixing an international game has resurfaced.
In 2019, Taylor received a phone call from a local businessman inviting him to discuss the sponsorship and potential launch of a T20 tournament in Zimbabwe and was paid $15,000 to make the journey. The cricketer, in his statement, further informed that Zimbabwe cricket is struggling to make money, and players were not paid for the last six months. Possibilities of Zimbabwe cricket to participate in the International level was also getting blurry. At the same time, such an offer made by a ‘so-called’ businessman appeared to be so lucrative that the cricketer could not deny it and immediately flew to India.
However, the cricketer didn’t reveal where the meeting took place and how many days he was in India. However, he admitted that the businessman and his friend took him to dinner the previous night, which followed a celebratory session including consumption of drugs (specifically; cocaine).
The following day turned out to be a fateful one for Taylor. The businessman stormed the cricketer’s door, showed him the video recording of Taylor while consuming cocaine, and threatened to fix an international match. Otherwise, the video would be released in the open domain.
Scared of consequences, Taylor had to kneel to the circumstances and was forcibly handed over USD 15000, which he accepted. According to Taylor, he was promised to be paid USD 20,000 more once the job was complete. Shocked and surprised by the event, Taylor took the money and left India instantly.
The incident had a drastic effect on Taylor, as he narrates that he went through mental trauma for months. He would have multiple nightmares haunting him about the future consequences of events that unfolded in India. Taylor had such extreme stress that he was diagnosed with Shingles and prescribed anti-psychotic medication- amitriptyline.
The wicket-keeper batsman further narrates that he received many threat calls from the booky for a return on his investment which Taylor could not afford. The player acknowledges that it took him 4-months, which was more than enough to face ICC’s flak.
ICC’s stern action
Brendan Taylor has been quite a decorated player for his country; he played more than 200 ODIs, having a score of 145 as his highest score in the 50-over format. While Taylor represented his nation in 34 Test matches and 68 innings, he scored 2320 runs, 171 being his highest score in the most extended cricket’s format.
His 433 runs at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup set a new record for Zimbabwe in any World Cup. His 11 centuries in ODIs is also a Zimbabwe record surpassing Alistair Campbell’s 7. However, that was Taylor’s glorious past; the cricketer is expected to have a bleak future. ICC plans to impose a multi-year ban on the player for being guilty of delay in reporting despite Taylor not fixing any match.
Taylor has accepted ICC’s stern action against him and hopes that his case will be used only to encourage aspirant cricketers not to delay reporting any such incident while reaching out to the respective administration earliest.
Brendan Taylor’s revelation shocked the cricketing fraternity, and immediate reactions started pouring in on social media. India’s most decorated all-rounder and spin wizard, R Ashwin, urged Taylor to spread awareness about his incident, so aspirants stay vigilant of any such fringe elements in society. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Most times, the hand dealt with us at the poker table gives us an option to bet or fold!! It’s important to fold and leave the table! All strength to Brendan and his family.”
Harsha Bhogle, the renowned cricket commentator and analyst, believes Taylor’s case reflects the vulnerability of a modern sportsman. “In retrospect, there were red flags everywhere, but with income out of cricket very limited and delayed, he got drawn in. Hope there is room for him; sometimes those that make mistakes become the best teachers,” he tweeted.
Taylor moves on
Taylor has revealed that he is checking into a rehabilitation centre to sort out himself and express gratitude towards his friends, wife, and three children for being supportive and showing him the right way.
Taylor also admits that drugs and narcotics do not discriminate but take everything down if it overpowers our will. Taylor concluded his statement by requesting everyone to pardon him for letting everyone down and being the unwanted brand ambassador of the game.
However, Brendan Taylor has shown sportsmanship by accepting his fault and taking ICC’s punishment. Still, another dimension in the story that is less discussed and talked about is the Indian booky who and his colleagues approached Taylor for corrupt practice. ICC, must make an official request to BCCI to intervene and probe the matter seriously so that Taylor is not the only one who suffers.