May 19, 2001

Match-fixing probe says corruption still a problem: report

Despite the life bans on prominent cricketers and stringent new constraints, the scourge of match-fixing in international cricket was still on and recent matches involving Pakistan are being investigated, media reported in London on Saturday.

"Matches played by Pakistan and New Zealand in Sharjah and by Pakistan in New Zealand this year have been under particular scrutiny," 'The Times' newspaper said.

It stated that a report by Sir Paul Condon, Chief of ICC's anti-corruption unit "will say next week that cricket cannot be given a clean bill of health."

The report will suggest that, despite the life bans imposed on former captains Hansie Cronje of South Africa, Md Azharuddin of India and Salim Malik of Pakistan, "attempts to manipulate results for money may not have been wiped out.

"Betting syndicates are known to have made large amounts not only out of the results of matches and series, many involving India and Pakistan, but also out of many different aspects of the game," the daily said. They have been known to bet on such things as who would bat first, who would open the bowling and whether certain batsmen would score more or less than a certain figure.

According to the report, Sir Paul who was recently made "people's peer" has admitted that cricket will never be rid of dishonesty. But he has set himself the target of reducing the problem to an "irreducible minimum" before the next World Cup in South Africa in 2002-03.

Sir Paul disclosed in February that "sadly there are still things to come out" and his report next week, to be released on the Internet, will indicate that there is still a long way to go before his objective can be met. No allegations against individuals will be made but the Condon report is expected to be highly critical of the way the ICC handled previous cases of suspected bribery in the sport.

The Australian Cricket Board, whose former chairman Malcolm Gray, is the ICC chairman, will share the blame with the world's governing body for failing to dig deeper when in 1995 they fined two Australian Test cricketers Mark Waugh and Shane Warne for taking money from bookmakers in return for information about teams, pitches and weather.

Rumours of widespread corruption in international cricket came to light last year when Cronje was accidentally picked up discussing the manipulation of matches on a mobile telephone in India by Delhi Police, prompting the ICC to introduce stringent penalties for all cricketers found guilty of any involvement with betting interests.

Cronje, Azharuddin and Malik have been banned for life. Alec Stewart, who is playing for England in the current Lord's Test against Pakistan, was interviewed by Sir Paul during his investigation, providing information about the England tour of India in 1992-93 when he was vice-captain.