New Delhi: Fixing cricket matches must be made a criminal offence to strike fear into the hearts of potential offenders, according to former India skipper Rahul Dravid.
A stylish batsman renowned for his impeccable integrity, Dravid has had the misfortune of captaining a Rajasthan Royals team embroiled in a major spot-fixing scandal that tainted this year's Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 competition.
Former Test bowler S Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals team-mates were arrested by Delhi Police in May, the trio accused of taking money to concede a fixed number of runs in the sixth edition of the lucrative tournament.
The players deny any wrongdoing and have been released on bail but the scandal has sparked nationwide outrage and prompted the law ministry to draft a new bill to deal with cheating in sport after admitting existing legislation was inadequate.
Dravid, who has been named as a witness in the case against the cricketers, said merely educating players of the perils of match-fixing was not enough.
"...(we have to) police it and have the right laws and ensure that people, when they indulge in these kind of activities, are actually punished," Dravid said in an interview with Cricinfo.
"People must see that there are consequences to your actions. That will create fear for people," said the 40-year-old Dravid, who quit Test cricket last year after scoring more than 13,000 runs in 164 matches.
Dravid added that some lessons could be learned from the high-profile doping incidents that have blighted cycling.
"The only people cyclists were scared of was not the testers, not the (cycling) authority... they were scared of the police. You read all the articles, the only guys they were scared of was the police and (the threat of) going to jail. So the only way that people are going to get that fear is if they know the consequences to these actions and the law that will come into play. It has got to be a criminal offence."
Dravid went on to suggest that administrators should work more closely with police to restore cricket's credibility.
"So many fans and so many people care deeply about this game and it's because of these fans and people we are who we are as cricketers. Administrators are there because of the fans and the cricketers, to run this game. So I think that credibility of a game in the eyes of the public is extremely important," Dravid said.