Global cricket chiefs believe newly-emerging domestic Twenty20 competitions are the tournaments at greatest risk of corruption, following match-fixing allegations made by broadcaster Al Jazeera.
International Cricket Council (ICC) officials are due to meet with Al Jazeera management as they look to explore all of the material, including as yet unbroadcast footage of claims against unnamed players that the Middle East-based television channel also alluded to in its documentary ‘Cricket’s Match-Fixers’.
David Richardson, the ICC’s chief executive, has promised a thorough investigation of all the allegations while admitting that the rash of Twenty20 leagues springing up all over the world are especially vulnerable to fixing.
“I think those leagues do provide an additional opportunity for the people that want to get involved and try and fix,” Richardson told reporters in London on Wednesday at an event to mark a year until the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
“So what we need to make sure is that anyone staging a T20 domestic tournament, especially televised, that they have in place minimum standards for dealing with the problem.
“To make sure they have an anti-corruption code in place that is applicable to the tournament, that all the players are educated, and that we are monitoring the franchise owners, the people involved in the tournament, doing due diligence.”
The Al Jazeera programme quoted a self-acknowledged fixer suggesting the ICC’s own anti-corruption unit was of little concern to the major criminal gangs involved in trying to manipulate cricket — which now mainly occurs through spot-fixing where incidents within a game are fixed to facilitate betting coups.
This only requires bribing a few players, rather than the greater number of cricketers in a match needed to make sure of fixing the result.
There have been claims that the ACU is desperately under-resourced for the job it has to do and former South Africa wicket-keeper Richardson, asked if it could cope with its workload, replied: “Well, not necessarily at ICC, but certainly in conjunction with our members.
“So it’s going to be a case in the future that before any approval is given for these types of tournaments that happen outside the full members, they’ve got to show that they’ve either got the ICC involved in setting up an anti-corruption unit, or the tournament doesn’t take place.
“We’ve got to take much sterner action in the future.”
England captain Joe Root and Australia counterpart Tim Paine have both dismissed the Al Jazeera allegations relating to their respective teams.
According to the documentary, both England’s Test match against India in December 2016 and Australia’s match against India were subjected to fixing.
England captain Joe Root and Australia counterpart Tim Paine have both rubbished Al Jazeera’s claims that relate to their teams.
England’s Chennai Test against India in December 2016 and Australia’s match against India in Ranchi last year were both cited in the documentary.
Richardson, while saying he was always concerned by any allegation of cricket corruption, was confident the ICC were meeting the challenge head on and dismissed suggestions they might be turning a blind eye.
“I’m always concerned if people are talking about fixing in cricket,” said Richardson.
“Simply it just means we have got to do some work investigating what has come out of it, and we will, and I’m a little perturbed by any accusation that we would attempt to sweep it under the carpet or pretend that nothing has happened.
“We are meeting with them (Al Jazeera) in the next couple of days, so there’s no reason to think we’re not going to be allowed to investigate fully.”
Meanwhile Richardson was encouraged by the way increasing numbers of players were determined to assist in the fight against corruption.
“I’ve always thought it was really up to the players,” he explained.
“Without the players helping, it’s not as if we’ve got a police force of thousands operating around the world. But the good thing is they’re pretty determined to root it out and make sure we keep the game clean as far as possible.”