There were murmurs of match fixing in the 90s but these remained unconfirmed till April 2000. That's when New Delhi police during a phone tapping operation heard South African captain Hansie Cronje conspiring with an Indian bookmaker Sanjeev Chawla to predetermine performances.
Such was Cronje's standing as a player, captain and sporting ambassador for post-apartheid South Africa that few in the cricket world doubted him, preferring to heap scorn on the Indian investigation. However four days after the accusation, Cronje confessed that he had not been "entirely honest".
He was immediately stripped of the captaincy and in subsequent testimony to the government-appointed King Commission revealed, sometimes in tears, further details of his involvement with bookmakers in match-fixing. The cricket world listened agog as much as aghast. The game's reputation was at an all-time low. But this was just the start of the drama. Several countries started their own investigation in the wake of Cronje's confession during which he linked former Indian captain Md Azharuddin to the scandal.
The Indian government asked the FBI to look into the matter while the BCCI appointed their own commission of inquiry. The results were sensational. Cronje was slapped with a life ban. The Qayyum Report in Pakistan recommended a life ban for Salim Malik. In India Azharuddin, Ajay Sharma and Manoj Prabhakar received similar sentences while Ajay Jadeja was slapped with a five-year ban.
The ICC too swung into action and constituted an Anti Corruption Unit. It went into all matters of corruption, visited the areas in which rigging was manifest and came out with an exhaustive report into corruption in the game and suggested implementation of a range of measures designed to keep bookmakers at bay, the players free of corruption and the game to emerge from its tainted image.
The ICC accepted all the 24 recommendations made by the ACU but every now and then stories of match fixing surface and the worst crisis in the history of the game may not be over yet.