Hamza Tariq, a 28-year-old wicketkeeper, is currently the only Canadian player hired on the CPL, having been part of the Trinbago Knight Riders for three seasons. He has played 93 times for Canada, but at the start of the 2011 World Cup, he was 20 years old and had only six games in his career as a senior team when he was attacked by three men allegedly linked to illegal gambling houses. Here is his story, as it was told to Peter Della Penna .
I was probably the last player in the 2011 World Cup who would have expected someone to try to get me involved in a corrupt activity I will approach He was only 20 years old, had just played in the ICC U-19 World Cup a year earlier and was not well established in the Canadian team. I never thought that someone would approach a player from Canada, and if they did, in my opinion, I thought they would want to go after a star instead of a reserve player like me.
But it happened.
When I told the people who approached me, the first thing they asked was: "How much money did they offer you?" No one is really worried about the whole story, how you get into it and how you get out of it. That's where many players make mistakes. In my experience, I do not have to offer myself money for an attempt at corruption.
I was excited to be in the World Cup, just my third overseas tour with the men's team. We started in Bangladesh for the warm-up matches before facing Sri Lanka in Hambantota for our first match of the tournament. In both places, there was nothing unusual. When we went to Nagpur for our next match against Zimbabwe, that was the first time I was introduced to a cricketer named & # 39; Raghav & # 39 ;.
In November and December 2010, Canada played 10 matches in India during a preparation tour. Several of the players of Pakistani origin, including myself, had missed the tour because of problems obtaining visas. Raghav, who was from Nagpur, played for one of the opposition teams during these games and became friends with many of our teammates.
During the World Cup, we had seven days of inactivity in Nagpur before the Zimbabwe game. One night, Raghav met me and two of my teammates at the hotel bar. He offered us drinks, I do not drink, and then he invited us to a club, which I also declined. But I remember he told us: & # 39; All drinks are in me. You are invited. We will go to another place and everything will be taken care of. He seemed a normal, kind guy and treated us with a lot of respect. He was a cricketer and so were we, so there was nothing out of the ordinary in our chats.
We lost our next two games, to Zimbabwe in Nagpur and to Pakistan in Colombo, before returning to India for our fourth match against Kenya in Delhi. On March 6, the night before that match, one of my teammates came to me and said: Hamza, Raghav will come with his three uncles. They want to meet us and take us to dinner, so I asked them to come to the room for a few drinks. & # 39;
I said. It was early in the night and in half an hour they had arrived. They were very normal looking boys, with normal clothes: jeans, T-shirts and not too many jewels. The name of the first person was Sunil. I do not remember the name of the second, although he said he ran a cricket academy in Hyderabad, and the third hardly spoke a word and never gave his name.
At a certain moment, when I remember, they did it. I ask a very specific question but I never looked at them with suspicion. Are you in the XI game tomorrow? I was asked, and I said: No, I'm in the reserves and I only went in if [captain] Ashish [Bagai] gets injured because I am a doorman. & # 39; That was it, his only question was when we were in the room.
Soon after, we went out to dinner at a Hakka restaurant, a combination of Indian and Chinese food. I went, two teammates and Raghav in a taxi to the restaurant, and there we met the three uncles.
I had no idea what menu items were, so the uncles called the waiter and said: bring everything you have. You are our guests right now, but when we come to Canada, we make sure they treat us well. "
We spent about an hour and a half in the restaurant, talking normally with this nice guy and his three uncles, who I thought My two teammates came back to the hotel in a taxi with Raghav, but I wanted to stop to take paan a street food wrapped in betel leaf, so I took a second taxi with the three guys.
On this trip, they asked me if I knew what, game XI would be, but not as a direct question, it was more like "Hey, who do you think is playing?" Even then I was like, "I'm not sure, I'm just a junior player on the team and I do not know these things." One of the uncles put his hand on my shoulder and said: "Hey, Hamza. You are young, you will return. We will always be here for you. I was enjoying my paan and I really did not pay attention to what he said.
As soon as we got back to the hotel, they said: "Go up to your room. We'll call you in a moment. We have something for you. & # 39; When I started walking towards the hotel, I saw someone with a long raincoat taking pictures. I did not think anything about it, I thought it was a reporter or something, and I just went into my room.
A good hour passed before they called. It was after 10.30pm. Sunil called me on my cell phone in my room and told me to go down to the lobby. When I got there, Sunil, the third uncle who did not talk much, and a girl were waiting for me. He was probably about the same age as me, very young, 18-21, and very beautiful. They said: You can take this girl to your room and after tomorrow, when they go to Mumbai [ahead of playing New Zealand on March 13] she will stay with you there all week and we will take care of everything & # 39;  At that point, it was a red flag. I had only seen them a few hours before, but they were already offering me a girl to go to bed, and now the questions they had asked earlier in the taxi came slowly back to me. But even then, I did not think they could be bookies or even bad people that I needed to get away from. It was just that they were offering me something and I had the option of taking it or rejecting it, and I decided to reject it.
I said to Sunil: Hey, I'm not comfortable doing this. Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass. That night there was a lot of security in the hotel, since India had just arrived before their match against Ireland, and said that if I was afraid they would see me, I knew a back staircase to my flat. He even offered to take us to a different hotel on the same street. I said: No, I'm fine. I really appreciate the offer, but I do not feel good doing it. "
They were not aggressive, but they were definitely trying to find ways for me to accept it, but I said," Look, if I want a girl, I'll definitely get I got in touch with you, so do not worry. "That's when they stepped back and said," Okay, no problem. "I was in the lobby for a good half hour with the two uncles and the girl before. We finally said goodbye and went back to my room.
About 10 minutes later, I returned to the lobby to Talking to my family in Canada (the reception was better on the ground floor than in my room) and someone else came up to me and I thought it was somewhat vague, I was offering equipment and he said: & # 39; I am part of a company We want to support teams like Can If you want to get some equipment, cricket stuff, I'll hook you up. For some reason, I thought he was the most schematic person.
I was still on the phone when I noticed the man in the raincoat who had been taking pictures before. Wherever he went, he followed me and sat as close as possible to me. Not right by my side, but in sight so he could see what he was doing. In a moment, I went to the reception to ask about sightseeing; The man immediately followed him and asked the receptionist what we had been talking about.
So I went to the man and said, "Hey, I saw you taking pictures of me when I came back from dinner. Can I know who you are? He asked me who I was and, when I told him about it, he said he knew I played for Canada and wondered why I had gotten up so late. I told him I was just dating. That's when he told me he was in the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit. At that point I was scared. He went straight and told me: "Go to bed."
Shortly before noon the next morning, we went down to the lobby to take the bus for our game against Kenya. The anti-corruption officer was waiting to talk to all of us. He said there had been some emails regarding our game and he added: "If there is anything that any player wants to talk about, it is better that you share it with us before the game starts instead of after the game."
I looked for it and said: "There was someone who approached me last night and was offering me equipment." In my head, that was more vague than the three uncles and the girl. Some players from Canada were contacted by the guy who offered the team and also reported it to the ACU official. I remember he asked me: "Is there anyone else?" I said no and he said he was fine, and that was it.
We were on the ground, about to start our warm-up, when I realized that the uncles could also suspect. I greeted Johnny Bujan, our assistant team manager, and asked him if he could talk to the guy from the Anti-Corruption Unit. It was about an hour before the game started. Five minutes later, Johnny brought him in and the first thing the ACU officer said was: "I knew you'd call me."
I told him: "I met these three guys through someone. I do not think there is anything wrong or suspicious there. We met him through a friend named Raghav. He asked me: "Do you know where they are staying? & # 39; I said, "Yes, they said they would stay on the street in another hotel." But he said: No. They are staying in the same hotel as you. That's when I knew something was wrong.
I told the ACU officer everything: how I had met Raghav through my teammates; how Raghav led our players to drink before the Zimbabwe game; how Raghav introduced us to the three uncles; how the three guys asked me about the Kenyan game, how they invited us to dinner and how they offered me the girl. The ACU officer asked me for the names of the uncles. When I told him that I did not know the name of the third uncle who barely spoke, the ACU officer asked me to call them.
I said, "Look, you can take my phone and call whoever you want. I do not want to get involved in this. But he said: "No, you have to call because you've been in contact with them." I said: "If I call, they'll know something is wrong because they know I should not have my phone once it hits the ground and during the game." At this point the draw was not more than 10 minutes away. But he said: You're old enough. Imagine something. & # 39;
So we left the stadium and he gave me my phone. I called Sunil's phone number, but it was Raghav who answered. I said, "Raghav, can I talk to Sunil? & # 39; He asked why and I said: I just want to talk to him about something & # 39;
Raghav gave the phone to Sunil. I was supposed to get the third guy's phone number. I asked Sunil: "Hey, the guy who brought the girl with you last night. Can you give me your number so I can get back to that girl for tonight? He said: "Is that why you're calling me? & # 39; I said: & # 39; Yes & # 39;
Said: "Are not you supposed to be not in the game? & # 39; I said, "Last night I went to bed late, so I could not get up on time and I lost the bus. In fact, I'm in the lobby trying to get a taxi to get to the ground. He said: Do not worry. If you want a girl, call me after the game. I said: & # 39; It's okay & # 39; Everything was on the speaker and the ACU officer was listening.
Then Sunil asked: "Do you know who is opening today? & # 39; That was the first time he asked me a direct question. I said: & # 39; I'm not sure. I'm a junior player and I do not know such things on the team. "
He followed up with another direct question." Do you think you have a team strong enough to beat Kenya today? Should I put money in? Hindi speaking His exact words in Hindi were: & # 39; Paisa laga doon ? & # 39; At that time I was like, & # 39; I do not know.It's your money You can take that decision yourself. "He said:" It's okay. Call me after the game. "
I hung up and went back inside, where Canada beat Kenya with five windows for our first tournament win. The anti-corruption officer joined us to return to the hotel and, as soon as we got to the hotel gates, but before getting off the bus, he asked me to call Sunil. It was around 11 at night. Sunil answered and I said: "Hey, I'm just calling you for the girl." He said: & # 39; So you have arrived at the hotel? & # 39; I said yes and he replied: "I'll call you back in a moment." It was a very brief call, not even 30 seconds.
I stayed in the lobby with most of the players from Canada, celebrating our victory. But it had been an hour since the team bus call and Sunil had not returned the call yet. The ACU officer asked me to call him again. He picked up and said: & # 39; I'm in the temple. I'll call you later. I did not even say anything before he hung up. The call did not last five seconds. I never heard from him again.
At that time, I was very frustrated at how I had gone all day. I told the ACU officer: "Listen, I've given you everything. I do not know anything You can take my phone if you want, but I just want to enjoy our victory with the team. "He told me to go ahead and enjoy the night and I returned with my teammates at the bar for the rest of the World Cup , nothing unusual happened.
Remembering the whole experience, I never thought that, as the team's youngest player, those people would come to me, I used to think that the biggest players in the team or the biggest teams would get close from people like Sunil, Raghav and their uncles.
Associate games are definitely a goal, associates now play much more cricket and much more cricket on television, with that, attraction and attention are there. A normal person would think that games with bigger teams will be objective, but reality is anything, and everything that is on television can be potentially objective.
Now I'm more I'm aware of my surroundings when I'm on tour. An error then could have cost me my career. The moment you feel something is wrong, report it immediately. Never take a chance