Gulam Bodi says cricket consumed his life. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix
Gulam Bodi says cricket consumed his life. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

Gulam Bodi. 
Photo: Backpagepix

Gulam Bodi. 
Photo: Backpagepix
JOHANNESBURG – Former Proteas batsman Gulam Bodi is sorry for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal that rocked South African cricket last year.

Bodi was slapped with a 20-year ban by Cricket South Africa in January last year after he admitted to contriving or attempting to fix matches during the 2015 Ram Slam T20 series.

“It’s been a year-and-a-half now, and I think that the public of this country deserves an apology,” Bodi told the Saturday Star this week during an interview at his home in Azaadville, in the West Rand.

“I want to say sorry to all the franchises and teams that I have represented around the world, my teammates, the public who are fans of cricket, my family, my friends, my colleagues, and everybody that I hurt. I’m really sorry for my actions.”

The 38-year-old said he had hoped to make his apology a lot sooner, but was unable to because of a sanction from Cricket South Africa.

“It was really difficult for me to keep silent for this long. I made a mistake.”

Bodi, who was born in India, was banned for 20 years from participating in any international or domestic match, or any cricket activity other than anti-corruption programmes; however, five of those years will be suspended on condition that the former Proteas player commits no further offences.

With the ban in full effect for well over a year now, Bodi admits that his life has come to a “standstill”.

“I played cricket for 15 years, the sport was my livelihood,” he said.

“I don’t have a degree, any businesses, or anything else to fall back on. At the moment, I am just doing bits and pieces to make ends meet.

“The last year-and-a-half has been challenging, and I’m still trying to find my feet.”

While Bodi takes full responsibility for his actions, he admits that he is battling to deal with the consequences. “It really hurts that people only remember Gulam Bodi the match-fixer, and not Gulam Bodi the cricketer.

“Now, even the people I hang around with make jokes about it and it hurts. When there is a cricket game on, they will ask me ‘what’s the result going to be?’ I know they’re joking, but it hurts.

“I have learnt that no matter how much good you have done, people will only remember that one bad deed.”

Bodi said he was also “worried” about the impact that his actions would have on his family later in life. “I have three kids, who are all young, so it hasn’t really affected their lives right now. But later on, their lives may be affected,” he said.

“People may hold what I have done against my kids. I’m really worried about that.”

Bodi said he was hoping that the public would give him a second chance to redeem himself. “I was the first person to admit that I had made a mistake and took responsibility when I was handed my 20-year ban.”

Gulam Bodi. 
Photo: Backpagepix

But he would never lose his passion for cricket, he said. “I do miss the game. I have been in love with this sport since I was a young boy. I would go everywhere with my cricket bat and ball.

“Cricket consumed my life, it was everything to me. Not many people know this but before I retired from the game, I contemplated taking up umpiring because I love the sport so much.

“I wanted to be involved in any way possible because it is all I have ever known.”

Bodi said he hoped that his sons would grow up to become cricketers in the future.

“I want both of my sons to grow up and play cricket. One of my sons is a left-handed batsman just like me. I want to train them up and groom them to become good cricketers.”

Bodi said he was hopeful of working with CSA and the players association to warn others of the perils of match-fixing.

Saturday Star