Neeraj Kumar is a former commissioner of the Delhi Police and has also served in the Central Bureau of Investigation. In A Cop in Cricket, Kumar writes of his stint as the head of the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, or ACSU, at the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Kumar recounts the rot the unit found within Indian cricket—nepotism and corruption in selections, an unwavering focus on commerce that propped up match fixing, and grave allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. In the following extract from the book, Kumar recounts a shocking complaint that came before him—it concerned incidents of corruption and child sexual abuse at the district cricket association in Haryana’s Mahendragarh.
Every enquiry that the ACSU conducted during my three-year tenure opened our eyes to a new facet of cricket mismanagement, one more sordid than the other. More often than not, each enquiry would open a new can of worms, raising a stink more putrid than the previous one. It always brought to the fore shocking fault lines in the administration of the game, begging to be addressed by someone down the line, someone who would care to look into the plight of young cricketers at the grassroots level, being exploited in more ways than one. One such probe we carried out, following a complaint by the BCCI, was in Mahendragarh in Haryana in October 2017. It blew the lid off the mess that goes on in the name of district cricket administration in most states of India. It commenced with the complaint of Pankaj Yadav, then an eighteen-year-old cricketer, who alleged that the head coach of the Mahendragarh District Cricket Association had demanded money from players who wanted to be on the district team.
Anshuman Upadhyay of the ACSU was directed to look into the matter. The enquiry officer first spoke to the complainant over the phone and soon realised that the issues involved were far more serious than a simple demand for money. He decided to visit Mahendragarh and probe the matter a little deeper. His enquiries disclosed shocking details of the workings of the district-level cricket administration. The secretary of the Mahendragarh District Cricket Association then was a man named Kishori Lal, a brick kiln owner. He was totally clueless about the game of cricket and had outsourced the running of the show to a local readymade garments shop owner, Praveen Tivadi, who took all decisions on behalf of Lal. Tivadi was the coach, selector and administrator, all rolled into one. He allowed players from other districts to play for Mahendragarh after taking huge sums of money. He had three middlemen—Kuldeep, Bheem and Raju—who got players from outside to join the district team for a hefty consideration, leaving the local players high and dry.