TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THAMI Tsolekile has admitted not reporting offers to fix that he received from Gulam Bodi but insists he is innocent of corruption.
Tsolekile also claims that Bodi, who has been banned for 20 years for serving as a middleman between fixers and players in this season’s franchise T20 competition, told him Alviro Petersen exposed the racket to Cricket SA (CSA) only after his attempts to get in on the deal had failed.
The former test wicketkeeper says many players have been drawn into the investigation into the saga, and he believes CSA have hung him out to dry by, he says, leaking his name and others selectively to the media.
Tsolekile spoke out weeks after disappearing from public view. He last played for the Lions in December, ostensibly because of an Achilles injury, and is not training with the squad.
“All I can tell you is that I’m clean and never did match-fixing – I can bet my life on that,” Tsolekile said.
“I declined Bodi’s offers and maybe I’m guilty of not reporting. I guess that goes for lots of other players.”
Petersen did, however, report the offers. His version of his involvement, as he told Sunday Times, is that, “I am the whistle-blower.”
Tsolekile differed with that: “Bodi told me Alviro wanted R600 000 per game and R300 000 up front and when they didn’t agree on a deal then he reported.”
Bodi’s lawyer, Ayoob Kaka, declined to comment on Tsolekile’s allegation.
Petersen denied that he had gone to CSA only after failing to reach terms with Bodi, and said he was not suspected of wrongdoing. But Tsolekile claimed otherwise.
“Alviro is also part of the investigation,” Tsolekile said. “I was told this by the anti-corruption guys.”
Following reports asking whether Petersen had spoken up out of adherence to cricket’s code of conduct or was acting as a double agent between the board and the fixers, the former test opening batsman took to social media to explain his involvement.
Asked why he had resorted to Twitter, Petersen said he needed to reach an international audience and that “my county enquired”. Petersen is due to play for Lancashire this winter.
Tsolekile was curious why his name and that of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has also protested his innocence, have appeared in the media.
“Lots of players have been questioned, I know that for a fact,” Tsolekile said. “Why did CSA choose to expose my name and ‘Lopsy’ and not other guys?”
Asked for comment, CSA responded – and then hastily followed up by saying that comment was not on the record.
Tsolekile himself has avoided further discussion on the issue, twice arranging times to be interviewed and then not answering calls to his phone.
The cloak of secrecy surrounding the scandal is fuelling dangerous speculation about the extent of fixing in SA cricket, all the while eroding the game’s credibility in the eyes of a public that would have hoped corruption in cricket was curbed when former SA captain Hansie Cronje’s involvement was outed in 2000.
The fiasco has also taken its toll on the individuals whose names have been mentioned but not officially linked to the investigation.
“Thami has been saying he’s in a terrible state of mind because of all the investigation around him,” a source close to Tsolekile said. “He feels he is not going to be able to give of his best if he resumes playing.
“The same thing is happening to ‘Lopsy’. They are going through hell.”
Indications are that the investigation will grind on in the way it has since news of it broke in November. For many more months many more names could be whispered rather than confirmed.
Part of the reason for that is that both making offers and not reporting them are offences under SA law. Which means that after CSA has done its bit to get to the bottom of the scandal, the authorities could launch a criminal investigation.
This is only the first innings of a match cricket knows it can’t win but is duty-bound to play if it wants to regain its respect.