Indian bookie approached South African player in 2005

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rajaGoolam Raja, the South African manager, has revealed that one of his players was approached by a bookmaker during South Africa’s one-day tour of India in November 2005.

Responding to a query about speculation that Bob Woolmer may have been about to write a book that lifted the lid on the match-fixing scandal, Raja admitted that there had been an “innocent” incident involving a member of his squad.

Although Raja declined to name the player involved, he added that the player was not a member of the current World Cup party. Of the players who toured India 18 months ago, only three are absent from this tour - Johan Botha, Albie Morkel and Justin Ontong.

“The question was just ‘What is the team tomorrow?’,” explained Raja. “In the past we would easily say, ‘Joe Soap is not playing’, but no longer. Now we don’t announce the team, whether it is picked or not.

“The players are trained to phone as soon as they’ve been approached, not to get into any discussion with these people, only to take their phone details and pass it onto the authorities. Nothing happened other than that one phone call.

“That is the protocol. If a player is approached, he has to let us know immediately because we have a system for dealing with it.”

South African cricket still feels the scars of the Hansie Cronje scandal in 2000, although Raja insisted that the players were older and wiser for the experience. “There’s a lot more awareness now than there was five years ago. The players are aware that there are people out there who are interested in finding out things we know, and the players are more cautious. Sometimes we took things for granted in the past, because we never thought that these things would happen.”

In the light of the murder investigation now underway in Jamaica, Raja said he would welcome heightened security for his players, even if it meant more constraints on their freedom on tour. “Absolutely, if there is one lesson that we’ve learnt, it is that you can’t have enough security,” said Raja. “We’ve made applications to beef up the security, and ICC have assured us that that will be the case.

“I think a lot of our players have experience of the subcontinent, and what we told them there is the same as what we’ve told them here. It’s a case of being vigilant. If you get a call or a knock on the door from someone you don’t know, I’ve told them repeatedly to please let me know.

“At the hotel, the presence of police and plain-clothes has increased,” he added. “Of course the central police officers are trained to look out for people in the foyers of hotels, who not necessarily don’t belong there, but look suspicious. They’ve been asked to let us know.”

Raja added that the news of Woolmer’s murder had not been as much of a shock to the players as the original news of his death. “The players were saddened to hear the circumstances of Bob’s death, it was such a macabre death, but the worse was when we first heard of it,” he said. “That was a total surprise but subsequently, like everyone else, we’ve been waiting for things to unfold.”

Source:Cricket Worldcup

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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 24th, 2007 and is filed under World Cup 2007.

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