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The three-man probe committee appointed by India's Supreme Court to investigate the IPL 2013 corruption and spot-fixing scandal will meet Mumbai Police joint-commissioner Himanshu Roy and the BCCI's anti-corruption unit in Mumbai on November 5 and 6. These meetings will take into account the police investigation in the two cities that fall within the commission's terms of reference, particularly important since formal charges have been laid on individuals connected with the IPL, as well as bookies relating to the scandal. The commission's terms of reference are very specifically related to allegations of betting and spot-fixing on IPL matches as well as the general "involvement" in betting and spot-fixing against IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan, who is the son-in-law of BCCI president N Srinivasan, CSK team owners India Cements, and Rajasthan Royals team owners Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd, as well as some players.The commission has also sought information from the public, the first time any matter related to Indian cricket has been opened up for information from independent sources. It has asked "persons possessing information" connected to the investigation and its terms of reference to contact them, by November 15, through an email address - firstname.lastname@example.org - and has assured confidentiality. The commission, which replaced the BCCI's own two-man probe panel after a protracted legal dispute, comprises Mukul Mudgal, former chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court, L Nageshwar Rao, additional solicitor-general of India, and Nilay Dutta, senior advocate and member of the Assam Cricket Association. The initial part of the commission's investigation will involve studying internal documents around the IPL that will have to be made available by the BCCI.In its original PIL, the Cricket Association of Bihar had asked for the inquiry to also include the question of "termination of the franchise agreement entered by the respondents 3 & 4 [India Cements and Jaipur IPL Cricket Private Ltd] with BCCI-IPL." The inquiry into the issue of "termination" was, however, set aside by the court as it formed a separate case by itself; it could theoretically be taken up following the conclusion of the Mudgal commission.The commission, which has already met twice, is expected to arrive at a decision by the end of January. Its costs will be borne by the BCCI. The commission was established by the court to investigate two key terms in a public interest litigation filed by the CAB, following the IPL 2013 corruption and spot-fixing scandal. In May, three cricketers belonging to the Rajasthan Royals IPL team, more than 20 bookies and Gurunath Meiyappan were arrested by Delhi and Mumbai Police for their alleged involvement - including in spot-fixing - with the illegal betting mafia. Rajasthan Royals owner Raj Kundra was also questioned by Mumbai Police and a handful more players by Delhi PoliceThis case is unprecedented not merely in Indian cricket but in all of Indian sport due to the involvement of law enforcement agencies and the courts in matters related to betting and fixing. For the first time since it was informally understood from the mid-1980s that the illegal betting mafia was involved in Indian cricket, the police have made arrests of players and officials connected to cricket and formal charges have been laid - in this case, involving the IPL, which has just completed its fifth year.Delhi Police has produced a 6000-page charge sheet, accusing 39 people, including three cricketers, under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal conspiracy, cheating and dishonesty as well as provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). Mumbai Police chargesheet extending for 11,500 pages, charged Gurunath under the IPC for cheating and fraud and, under the Bombay Police Act, 'cheating at games'. Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf has been declared as a "wanted accused" in the case. The Mudgal commission investigation comes at a time when the Law Ministry is finalising a critical draft legislation to cover all sport, domestic, national or international played in India, and including not merely athletes but "support personnel."The Prevention of Sporting Fraud Bill 2013, which must now be placed before the cabinet, includes manipulation or attempt to manipulate sports results, proven underperformance, passing on insider information for financial benefit as well as failure to inform within a reasonable amount of time "approaches" that relate to manipulation, attempts to manipulate, underperformance or insider information. The punishment extends to cover foreigners involved in sporting events in India as well as offences by companies or an association of individuals.Should the sporting fraud law come into being during the course of the police investigation into the IPL, it is possible that the prosecution against the IPL players and officials can either add the charges on to the cases currently under way, or transfer the charges of the cases under the new sporting fraud law.Much as Ricky Ponting's commanding presence at No. 3 went a long way towards dictating the fortunes of the Australian team for a decade, a lot is riding on the success of his autobiography. For the publishing and bookselling industries, At the Close of Play is a commodity not dissimilar to the Australian cricket broadcast rights that channels Nine and Ten recently paid well over the odds to secure: a rare "sure thing" in a marketplace increasingly fragmented and fickle. Ponting received a handsome advance for his life story, leaving his publishers at Harper Collins to hope for a windfall akin to those reaped by the tomes of Steve Waugh and John Howard.Something else is at stake across the 700 pages also, a matter weighty enough for Ponting to be articulating at some length on his current promotional tour around the country. Honesty is one of Ponting's bywords, even occupying its own segment in the book, and he sees no point in maintaining a smooth veneer now after being kept silent in the past by the responsibilities of the office. His account of an era that spanned success, decline and fall is a reckoning for numerous figures in the game at home and overseas, and the more pointed passages have been scooped up eagerly by a media hungrier for headlines than insights.Spotfires have broken out around previously dormant issues like Monkeygate, Cricket Australia's planning for the future, and most prominently the perceived past transgressions of the national captain, Michael Clarke. Ponting's intention was less to create tensions than alleviate them, shoving skeletons out of the closet to make room for something more constructiveAs he said this week of Mark Taylor's observation that his captaincy descendant might have been more demure: "I was actually a little bit offended Mark would come out and say something like that - that I would break what happens in the sanctuary of the Australian change room. I'm not out doing things like that to sell books. Australian cricket is dear to me, it's been my life for 20-odd years. If anything, what I've had to say will hopefully help everyone."Seldom does a page of the book go by without a piece of information not previously known or an opinion keenly expressed, via the dual guiding hands of his writing collaborators Geoff Armstrong (who also worked on Ponting's less enlightening diaries) and Peter Lalor. If there is anything Clarke, Taylor, James Sutherland and others may feel aggrieved by, it is the timing of this truth-telling, a few weeks before the start of an Ashes series. But then sales imperatives have dictated the timing of At the Close of Play's release, and nothing reflects the power of commercial expedience more than cricket's 2013 schedule. So aside from the jousting around the book's release, what exactly has Ponting bequeathed us? It is a long and detailed account, though the coverage is not always even. Some tours, like 2012 in the West Indies, are missing completely, and others receive scant attention. This is never more evident than in the passages addressing the 2009 Ashes tour, a pivot point for Australian cricket and for Ponting - the moment he went from Ashes holder to loser, the 5-0 bloodsport of 2006-07 expunged by an increasingly methodical and confident England. The final day of Cardiff is barely touched, while the hotly debated call to leave out Nathan Hauritz on a turning pitch at The Oval is talked away as the result of a heel injury. Such lapses seem as much a side effect of covering previously diarised ground a second time as an unwillingness to observe and introspect, and also a symptom of the book's sheer sweep. When Ponting began with Mowbray, Tasmania and then Australia, the national team dressing room was populated by the likes of Taylor, the Waughs, Craig McDermott and David Boon. Seventeen years later, Ponting had fought alongside no fewer than 82 other players for Australia. It is a dizzying figure, made more so by the thought that as captain he tried to get to know each one, the better to find out how he could draw out their best.If the story sags a little through the middle, its most bracing passages arrive early. The depiction of Ponting's cricket-obsessed youth on the working-class side of Launceston, his days at the Academy in Adelaide (crashing a car with Shane Warne no less), and the swapping of a Tasmania cap for his baggy green is a tale to be cherished. His binge- drinking phase is covered unstintingly, as is a dalliance with a bookmaker at the greyhound track in 1997 that could so easily have resulted in his entrapment and corruption. Equally instructive is Ponting's reflection that many momentous events passed him by as he struggled for traction in the team, something worth keeping in mind while critiquing today's young Australian cricketers in a time of far less confident certainty than Ponting enjoyed. Some of Ponting's observations speak to a few of his public attributes and foibles. When he writes of his penchant for fiery debates on sport with his father, it offers a glimpse of the genesis of a feisty pitch-side manner that tended to get him into trouble with umpires. When he admits he struggled to isolate the reasons why Taylor was considered such an outstanding captain, Ponting unwittingly hints at the sorts of qualities missing from his own leadership. It also becomes clear that criticism of his consultative style and occasionally leaden tactics wounded him much more than he let on at the time.Similarly affecting is the space devoted to his relationship, marriage and children with Rianna, a companion who helped Ponting see beyond the game and helped enhance his sense of growth and self-improvement after the bumpier days of his youth. He writes of her in a way that doesn't recall cricketing biography quite so much as "Uptown Girl", with the equally endearing revelation that her limited knowledge of cricket ensured he could leave the baggage of the game and the team at their front door. Of course there is plenty about batting also, as befits the Australian most likely to be mentioned in conversations alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. Ponting's struggles with offspin were evident as early as his first-class debut at Adelaide Oval, when Tim May tied him in the kinds of knots Harbhajan Singh would later delight in. Ponting relates how Mohammad Azharuddin helped him establish a working method for the spinning ball on the subcontinent, and for that reason names a century on the first day of the 2008 Test series, in Bangalore, as one of his proudest. The innings coincided with the time Ponting began to feel the start of a slow but inexorable fade from his peak as a batsman and leader to the point when, five years later, he sat in his Adelaide hotel room during the second Test against South Africa and confided to Rianna: "I'm not sure I can do this anymore." Ponting's account of his final months, weeks and days in the team is a near masterpiece of how doubt can infiltrate even the steeliest mind, hastening the muddled thoughts and actions that had him out in unseemly fashion in both innings of a Test Australia should have won.A sapping draw set the scene for a final match ending with rich tributes for the retiring hero, but also a clear reminder that things were not what they used to be: at the WACA ground it was South Africa's cricketers who played with the brio and trust that had been a hallmark of Ponting's best years. Though he used the visitors' performance in the match as the example for the team to follow in his farewell dressing-room address, the man who had set the highest bar was Ponting himself. Whatever their current reservations about his frankness, it can only be hoped the great and good of Australian cricket will come to appreciate At the Close of Play for telling how he did so.Having known the family and played footy with Ricky as kids I can assure you that what he has achieved is amazing. What a lot of people (particularly on the Subcontinent) don't understand with Ricky (and indeed with a lot of Australians)is how combative our sport is played in general. Our footy is played with venom where you would literally try to hurt as much as possible your opponent in every contest. Then you go to work or school with them the next day. Sledging and physical contests occur and then afterwards you have a beer. Ricky went to a school that more kids would graduate to gaol than work, let alone University. So its no wonder there was a degree of fight in the Punter! I don't think tht too much shud be read in2 the whole ponting and clarke issue, bcos the guys are clearly buddies and will sort out whatever differences and we will be left trying to take sides, so let's just leave it 2 them. There is no doubt in my mind tht he was great. Just because of a few bad comments on this page and a few detractors elsewhere doesn't mean he will suddenly be scratched off the History books. The fact that Lara,Kallis and Tendulkar are regarded as the greatest 2 hav played the game and that Ponting is right up there with them, says tht he is also great, even people may not want to agree with that. As far as the timing of the book is concerned, of course it's commercial. This is the best time to release a book about an Australian changing room and great former captain, because this is the time when everyone wil be questioning their captaincy and their change room, and so forthGreat cricketer! I admired him,he as one of the greatest to play this distinguished game.My only disappointment is his recent stumble with the Tendulkar / Harbajan and Symonds issue.It was uncalled for,this pettiness.At the end of the day, no effort will diminished the luminosity of SR Tendulkar.Ponting had two personalities, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Dr, Jekyll was the batsman and Mr. Hyde the captain. Mr. Hyde stretched the limits of captaincy and often stepped over the line. As competitive as Ponting was, he could never curb his enthusiasm. His character showed up when he could have taken a deep breath and worked things with Kumble in that infamous Test Match in Sydney. Prior to that Test match there was also a declaration that the fielder's word should taken as the truth. And we all know how that worked. Ponting also did not know how to rein in a certain Mr. Symonds and during his tenure many lumineries, such as Warne, Gilchrist, Martin retired for unspecified reasons. It is good to be tough as nails when you are the captain but you also need to hold counsel with your senior mates. As for Dr Jekyll, I cannot find one fault. He gave his sweat and blood for Australia and nothing more can be asked/expected. But a biography during Ashes reeks of money. I Just have one thing to say. If one so called "great" does not touch upon some very important periods of his life, then there is nothing "honest" in this book. For me , its is an other tale of fiction Ponting and Honesty are antonyms not synonyms. Arrogant, extremely lucky and an amazing batsman who lived and held many awards because of the talent of his team mates. His captaincy can at best be termed lucky because he had McGrath, Gilles, Lee, Warney in bowling and Gilly, Haydos, Symonds and others in batting. With that kind of team even Sachin Tendulkar can be a great captain. Thanks. Now I don't have to wade through 699 pages of to confirm what I suspected - that apart from the details of his youth and early cricketing life, the book isn't worth reading.
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