Real Bodi blow for SA cricket

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“I don’t really care for Bodi, a f*****g arrogant prat,” is how one former opponent described him this week.

Before the 2012 Champions league T20 competition in which he turned out to be one of the Highveld Lions’ star players, Bodi told me: “You know, you’re going to be writing that headline, ‘Boom Boom Bodi’, during the Champions League. Just watch.”

It was a self-anointed moniker; he was never shy, that’s for certain.

“Boom Boom” was born in Hathuran, a small town in the Indian state of Gujarat. His family emigrated to South Africa and he first came to prominence in KwaZulu-Natal as a left-arm wrist spinner.

Back then, in the late 1990s, wrist spin was all the rage as every other nation sought to mimic Australia by identifying their own wrist spinner.

Bodi wasn’t very good but he landed enough balls in the right areas enough times that he kept Kevin Pietersen out of the KZN team – a catalyst for Pietersen’s move to England.

He was first picked for South Africa in 2002 for the one-day series in the West Indies, but broke his finger. That injury seemed to have put paid to his status as a spinner.

In the years thereafter he remodelled himself as a pinch-hitter at the top of the order and the advent of T20 cricket made him a valuable player. He had a very successful time in that position during his six seasons at the Titans, and they won four limited overs titles in his time at the franchise.

In 2007 his exploits with the Titans again brought national attention and he was included in the South African squad for the World T20 that year, though he didn’t play a match in the tournament.

He played two ODIs just before that tournament, scoring a half-century in one of the matches against Zimbabwe. His sole international T20 appearance came late in 2007 against the West Indies in Port Elizabeth, where he scored just eight.

He brought his talents south of the Jukskei in 2010/11 and proved an important part of the Lions’ line-up as they finished runners-up in the RamSlam in 2012 before winning the title the following season.

They also went on that magical run to the final of the Champions league T20 tournament in 2012, with Bodi finishing as that competition’s second-highest run-scorer.

While always the life of any party among teammates, some didn’t take kindly to his perceived arrogance and he certainly knew how to rile opponents, though often those who knew him well just laughed off his attempts at sledging.

Those who played with him always believed he was capable of something stupid. But fixing?

It is understood Bodi has been experiencing some difficult times since the loss of a close family member last year. Many have tried to help him, but no adult can be supervised 24/7.

He certainly had many friends and associates on the sub-continent and wasn’t afraid of telling you as much.

It is believed the charges against Bodi by Cricket South Africa last week relate to spot-fixing – attempting to influence a specific part of a match (the number of runs scored in an over, for instance) rather than fixing an entire match. Spot-fixing is much easier to do and much harder to detect, too.

Cricket SA has said more charges will follow against players who either worked with Bodi or failed to report what he was up to.

It is the most serious scandal to hit the local game since Hansie Cronjé got caught on a tape-recording making deals with Indian bookies in 2000.

Bodi was said by Cricket SA to be co-operating with the investigation, after initially failing to do so.

This can of worms will have far-reaching consequences for the sport in this country. For Bodi it could lead to jail-time.

Meanwhile, Cricket SA needs the matter to be handled properly. Time is not an issue.

The RamSlam, where this corruption allegedly occurred, is the crown jewel in domestic cricket. It is the only tournament that can attract a sold-out venue, as was the case in the final at SuperSport Park in December.

In recent seasons, Cricket SA has sought to raise the event’s profile by attracting some big names – including Chris Gayle, Pietersen and Kieron Pollard – and selling TV broadcasting rights to international companies. The latter initiative has put the competition in the sights of the many illegal betting syndicates that operate in the Middle East and the sub-continent.

Bodi is just one part of it. Always one who craved the spotlight, this kind of attention is not what he wanted, nor what SA cricket or the sport in general needs.

Original source: Real Bodi blow for SA cricket

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