ICC alert to spot-fixing at IPL

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

Ahmedabad : With the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) just a couple of weeks away, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is worried about the Twenty20 format’s vulnerability to corrupt practices.

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A top official of the world body told IANS that it is very tough for its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) to “keep tabs on players in a tournament where national teams are not participating.”

“It is becoming increasingly tough for the ACSU to keep clean a tournament, where national teams are not participating. And now after the spot-fixing incident we are more vigilant. There is still a huge risk to the game of cricket but ACSU has done an excellent job. We have a robust system in place to combat spot-fixing,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

The IPL has been under the scanner after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) initially refused ACSU services citing high costs. But the presence of well-known bookie Hamid Qasim Banjo, who shot into limelight in the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal that rocked world cricket in 2000 at the Wanderers stadium during the second edition, prompted the BCCI to rope in ACSU.

The official said the popularity of Twenty20 cricket is a worry for the ACSU.

“Twenty20 cricket is very vulnerable to match-fixing since it is very unpredictable. We are still trying to keep it clean and break the betting syndicates,” he said.

The ICC was happy with a clean World Cup, but the presence of alleged Delhi bookie Pradeep Aggarwal in the Indian team’s dressing room at the Ferozeshah Kotla during the match against the Netherlands was a concern for them.

Aggarwal, a member of the sports committee of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), was found in the dressing room as an official for all India matches in the national capital.

“It is a serious concern for us and we are still investigating how he managed to get into the dressing room,” the official said.

The official said the sting operation by British tabloid News of the World to expose the involvement of three Pakistani cricketers — former captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — in spot fixing has done to the game of cricket a world of good. The trio has been banned for 10, seven and five years respectively after they were found guilty of spot fixing during the Lord’s Test last year.

The official went on to add that the trio along with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were under ICC’s scanner for a long time.

“We try to pick up the patterns in the game and they were under our scanner for a long time. We had also sent mails to their board regarding our suspicion, long before the sting was done,” he said.

“Though the incident has shaken the faith of the fans, I think it has done good to the game. Otherwise, we would have woken up to spot-fixing after another 10-15 years like we did in the case of the match-fixing,” the official said.

The ACSU was formed after the Cronje scandal broke out in 2000. Since its inception the ACSU has been at the forefront of the battle against corruption.

(Abhishek Roy can be contacted at [email protected])