Twenty20 cricket is creating new opportunities for corruption to infiltrate the game, says ICC
The growth in Twenty20 competitions is creating new opportunities for corruption to infiltrate cricket, says ICC Anti-Corruption General Manager Alex Marshall.
Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket pundit Mike Atherton, Marshall said he could not guarantee that international cricket is clean in any format and confirmed that investigations remain ongoing into corruption in Sri Lanka cricket.
Two charges have so far come out of the ICC’s investigations on the subcontinent, against former internationals Sanath Jayasuriya and Nuwan Zoysa.
Jayasuriya denies failing to co-operate with an investigation and “concealing, tampering with or destroying evidence” while Zoysa is charged with trying to fix an international match, trying to recruit another player to do so and failing to report approaches.
“I have particular concerns about Sri Lanka because of the number of cases that we’ve had here and the number of allegations that have been made and my fear is there is a problem within the structure of Sri Lanka cricket, or there has been in the past and I’m really concerned that the young players in their team don’t fall victim to the corrupters out there,” said Marshall.
“I’ve been very encouraged in recent week, working with the cricket authorities and the government authorities, talking about issues such as introducing legislation that would make match-fixing, session-fixing or approaching players a crime.
“There are still live investigations in Sri Lanka and there could well be cases where I’ll be making recommendations for charges.”
Marshall, who has been in his current role for 18 months, oversees a team of nine people at ICC headquarters and a further “seven or eight around the world who work at international cricket matches”.
He says he has no doubt that international cricket is under threat.
“I think the game, particularly as it is viewed at the high levels, is a great game and that great game that I love is threatened by quite a few corrupters who are always looking for routes in,” he said.
“So, for example, in the last year or so we’ve launched around 30 investigations – often following reports from within cricket – of suspicious activity or somebody trying to make an approach.
“The changing nature of cricket – for example, the big increase in the number of T20 tournaments – has definitely given the corrupters new avenues, new ways to try and arrange their fixing.”
Marshall reiterated that he could not guarantee that international cricket is free of corruption but highlighted the ICC’s proactive stance in tackling it.
“You can never guarantee it but cricket at the international level has always been under threat from corrupters; if we go back to the very earliest England games in previous centuries, there were things happening around betting that were suspicious.
“So what I’m saying is that the corrupters are active and they are looking for routes in and they will sometimes look for routes into Test cricket.
“There was a case not very long ago in Zimbabwe where a senior administrator tried to corrupt the captain of Zimbabwe. He was caught and got a 20-year ban from cricket.”
Earlier this year the broadcaster Al-Jazeera broadcast two documentaries – the first of which highlighted, it claimed, over 20 spot-fixing scams, some of which allegedly included England players.
Marshall said that his team has now investigated the allegations made in that episode and has interviewed all but one person featured but would not confirm if the ICC has invested claims made against English cricketers, subsequently urging the broadcaster to hand over any unseen material to law enforcement.
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