Gambling furore rumbles on

Delhi police probe match-fixing in England World Cup

AFP

October 22, 2006

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Herschelle Gibbs and his laywer on their way to chat with the Delhi police © AFP
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Suspicions of match-fixing during England's hosting of the cricket World Cup in 1999 have led Indian police to Britain only days after they formally questioned South African batsman Herschelle Gibbs.

Delhi police are probing whether matches held in England were fixed by gambling syndicates and have requested the assistance of Scotland Yard.

Video footage of South Africa's matches during the 1999 tournament and the UK bank accounts and telephone records of disgraced South African cricketer Hansie Cronje have been requested by the Delhi investigators. Cronje, the now-deceased South Africa captain, became a pariah in April 2000 when he admitted accepting bribes from gambling syndicates.

Before being banned for life and later dying in a plane crash, he was the subject of the King Commission set up by South Africa to investigate the bribery claims. However the King Commission did not focus on any of the matches in the 1999 World Cup.

Of particular concern is Bangladesh's defeat of Pakistan in a group game, although claims have also surrounded South Africa's loss to Zimbabwe and a second phase match between India and Pakistan. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh won when their opponents had already assured qualification.

According to The Sunday Times newspaper, the Indian investigators are focusing on the dealings of Cronje and Sanjeev Chalwa, an Indian national living in London.

Tapped telephone conversations between the two men in 2000 led Delhi police to believe that Chalwa was negotiating with Cronje to fix South Africa's matches in India.

During the King Commission Cronje admitted accepting bribes from gambling syndicates to help to fix matches and individual batting scores, notably an £8000 fee to ensure his team lost a one-day international against India in Nagpur in March 2000.

Gibbs, his opening batsman, later admitted having agreed to accept £8000 in exchange for scoring 20 runs or less and was banned for six months. Gibbs, who is back playing for South Africa, was formally questioned by Delhi police this week however it it believed he has not told the police anything new.

Asked if he knew whether Cronje fixed the matches in Britain, Gibbs said he did not know but admitted that Cronje had lied when he told the King Commission that he had never approached team-mates to throw a game for cash.

Concerning the 1999 tournament in England, detectives believe that earpieces worn by Cronje provide evidence that South Africa's match against India at Hove, won by South Africa, was fixed.

In a letter to be sent via the Home Office, the police refer to the match as a "curious incident" and ask if ICC officials had raised the issue at the time.

© AFP

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