Behera kingpin of age fudging by cricketers: Petitioner

Bhubaneswar: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a preliminary inquiry against 34 budding cricketers of the State for ‘age fudging’, petitioner Subrat Nanda alleged that Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) secretary Ashirbad Behera is squarely responsible for the misconduct of the players.

“This age fudging by cricketers has been going on for last 30-40 years. The so called bada pandas (bigwigs) in Odisha cricket are involved in the scam. Being the secretary of OCA and Cuttack District Athletic Association, Behera is representing the State and there is a big scam in the selection of players in both group A and B. He (Behera) must be held guilty in the scam,” Nanda, who had filed a petition with the central investigating agency in this regard, told OTV.

Nanda alleged that the scam has been perpetrated at the instance of Behera.

“Behera has knowingly inducted nearly fifty aspirants in two teams. There is no doubt that Cuttack district has won tournaments several times. But considering the age of these players, they should not be allowed in Under-16 and Under-19 categories. They could get entry into respective teams only because of Behera,” Nanda stated.

The petitioner alleged that Behera has opened the floodgates for corruption, which blocked the entry of genuine emerging Odisha players into the national team.

“Has anybody seen a new talent from Odisha in national cricket team in the last four to five years? This is only due to the fact that the age fudging in Odisha has literally blocked all chances of talented players getting entry into the national team. It is a shame for all of us,” he stated.

Asked about possible financial gain from such an act, Nanda said the people involved in it take share from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s monetary incentive meant for the players.

“BCCI has a provision to give incentives to Under-16 and Under-19 category players. Behera has become the middleman in this business. The OCA has deliberately violated the guidelines stipulated by the BCCI in this regard. The players have given forged documents to get entry into the respective teams,” the petitioner said.

Parrying questions on the allegations levelled by Nanda, Behera said he will cooperate with the investigating agency in the probe.

“It’s practically not possible to verify the documents submitted by the aspirants. As per the guidelines of the BCCI, we have taken the players for the groups. How could we possibly know if somebody has done a fraud? That’s why we had also sought affidavits from the players regarding this….We have given all the documents to the CBI and we will cooperate in the investigation,” Behera said.

Acting on Nanda’s complaint, the national probe agency has begun an inquiry against 34 suspected players as well as unknown players for alleged misconduct. Officials of Cuttack District Athletic Association, OCA and municipal bodies have also come under the scanner for the alleged fraud.