ICC fighting 'war' against corruption - Richardson
Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, has conceded that the recent sting operation by India TV involving six umpires from the sub-continent, who allegedly were willing to divulge information and even give favourable decisions in exchange for monetary profits, is a prime example of how far the tentacles of corruption have reached in cricket.
Richardson, who became chief executive on July 1, said cricket was confronting a "war" against corruption and the ICC was aware that the bookmakers were now targeting domestic Twenty20 leagues as a result of a tightening of security and education of international players by the anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).
"It is everybody now unfortunately: everybody is susceptible, the curators, the groundsmen," Richardson said at the unveiling of the ICC Champions Trophy, which will be hosted in England in the summer of 2013. "At international level, whether it is a bilateral series or whether it is an ICC event, the attention to that aspect of the world game is at the same level every time we walk out onto the field so to speak.
"So it won't be any less, it won't be any more than normal. But the bottom line is, it is a bit of a war we are fighting and our anti-corruption unit has their work cut out to make sure the players are kept away from temptation and that we end up with a corruption-free event."
On October 8, India TV, a privately-owned Indian television channel, exposed details of the sting operation, which was carried out by undercover reporters. Nadir Shah (Bangladesh), Nadeem Ghauri and Anis Siddiqui (Pakistan), and Sagara Gallage, Maurice Winston Zilwa and Gamini Dissanayake (Sri Lanka) were the six umpires named in the sting. Shah was the only one who met the reporters in person in Delhi, while the rest carried out the interactions via Skype. Though all the umpires denied any wrongdoing on their part, their respective boards decided to suspend them pending investigations.
Richardson said although the ICC was not empowered like the police to arrest anyone, the ACSU had been strengthened recently to make it more effective and install the required mechanism to arrest corrupt elements to breach barriers.
"The plan of attack is obviously we have got an anti-corruption unit whose resources have been increased in recent times," Richardson told ESPNcricinfo in an extensive interview. "So they have got more personnel working there, they have got more money allocated to do their job, their databases have been upgraded. What has happened is because the international players are well educated now and know the risks, displacement has occurred and the bookies are now targeting domestic leagues.
"So to counter that we made sure that every full-member country has its own anti-corruption unit in place and its own anti-corruption code so that what we are doing at the international level can be mirrored at the domestic level. And in doing so we have increased the total resources available (to fight corruption)."
In the past, it has been suggested that the ICC could run an undercover operation of its own in an effort to stamp out corruption. However, Richardson defended the ACSU, saying it had acquired more teeth and was much more pro-active protecting the game, players and officials from corrupt elements.
"The strategy of the anti-corruption unit has been prevention," he said. "And this is borne out of the fact that they are not a police force. They have quite restricted investigatory powers themselves. So if that is the case, then the focus has been to try and prevent. In other words, let us gather intelligence, let us know who the crooked bookmakers are, let us keep them away from players, when they come near the players, let us warn the players from stay away. And only if they ignore the warnings then try and nail them (players).
"In a way, the criticism has been 'how come you have never caught anybody?' But actually it is bit like a good lawyer; he keeps you out of the court. He does not wait for you to get to the court and then catches you. Obviously in some case the ACSU have not prevented everything and sting operations have exposed things."
Full interview with Dave Richardson to be published on Friday, October 19.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo