/ 10 January 2012

World cricket body wants lifetime bans for corruption

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) World Cricket Committee has recommended lifetime bans for any captain, vice-captain or coach found guilty of corruption.

The committee, which described itself as the “old guard”, met in Cape Town on Sunday and Monday and told the media on Tuesday it had made recommendations to the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).

“The most important thing we did in this meeting was to bring together the ACSU and a player representative with the possibility of anti-corruption being a more shared activity and responsibility,” said chairperson of the committee Mike Brearley.

“We want the players to take ownership of the problem and then we have more chance of minimising or, dare I even say it, eradicating corruption.”

The former England captain admitted they had no idea of the extent of corruption in the sport and had no way of measuring it.

“Nobody knows how serious it is,” Brearley said.

“There are suspicions and rumours but it is extremely hard to know what weight to attach to them.”

‘Preventative measures’
A breakthrough was made when former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and players Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were given varying jail sentences for their involvement in the match-fixing scandal during the Lord’s Test against England in 2010.

“For those people to have been caught and disciplined is an achievement and we hope it will concentrate the minds of anyone who might be tempted,” Brearley said.

“It’s difficult to assess how successful the preventative measures are but there are suggestions of successes … There have been a larger number of players reporting approaches made to them, which is hopeful.”

One of the dangers to the sport, Brearley said, was that corruption was not limited to international cricket or to a particular format of the game.

“The shorter the game, the more flurry there is around it and then corruption is difficult to spot,” he said.

“But we have to be vigilant in domestic cricket as well. If they [bookmakers] can’t get something out at an international level, then they go to some other match which is being televised … It might seem a very minor match, like a mid-season domestic game in a league, but the gambling is such that they are all open to possibilities of corruption.”

‘Mystery shopper’
The committee suggested that the ACSU considered removing the minimum sentences in the ICC’s anti-corruption code, and that education materials and punishments at international level should be mirrored at domestic level.

As it is an offence for any player not to report an approach by a bookmaker, the idea of a “mystery shopper” could be introduced.

A sting operation would then be used for players “already suspected” so as not to destroy the fine balance of trust between the players and the ACSU but still use parts of the armoury to attack the threat.

“There is so much money to be made in this area, especially among the betting fraternity in the sub-continent — which is the biggest source of the problem — they are going to be cunning and ruthless,” Brearley said.

“They will keep going in whatever way they can and, as with crime in general, we have to keep going and do all we can do to stamp it out.” — Sapa