Players' chief warns of Twenty20 match-fixing
Tim May, the chief executive of the international players union FICA, has warned that Twenty20 cricket is 'ripe for corruption'.
May, a former Australian offspinner, told The Wisden Cricketer magazine "Lord Condon, who headed up the ICC's Anti-corruption and Security Unit, said only last year that we can never think we have this cancer beaten. Twenty20 is just ripe for corruption - the shorter the game the more influence each particular incident can have. So I think it opens up a great deal of opportunities for the bookmakers to try and corrupt players into providing various different outcomes in the game, if not the result itself. Cricket needs to be very, very careful."
Cricket only recently emerged from a nasty episode of revelations about match-fixing when in 2000 Hansie Conje, then South Africa captain, admitted to taking money from bookmakers. It spiralled into a full enquiry headed by Condon's team at the ICC. Since then the game has stayed clean but the rise of Twenty20 has created new vulnerable areas. In July last year Dave Richardson, the ICC general manager, said the ICC was 'concerned' and that the IPL will "inevitably attract the interest of match-fixers and people like that."
With Lalit Modi recently announcing that the second season of the Twenty20 Champions League will clash with the climax of the English domestic season, May also criticised the 'arrogant' decision making of the IPL executives.
"The refusal to grant players the ability to review the security arrangements and the decision of the IPL and its franchises not to recognise or deal with any players' managers or agents, is self-defeating. Its decision-making is very arrogant. The attitude is that they're the only game in town, they're the biggest game in town and, as long as they pay these huge amounts of money, they can do what they like. That may not always be the case."
Seeking avenues to protect the Test game, May said a Test championship would add much-needed context to the format but fears that political wrangling of the ICC members could prevent it from developing. "At the moment it's just a mad scramble of bilateral series that mean nothing. A Test championship over a period of one or two years would increase the value of those contests and make it possible to play significantly less cricket but maintain or increase commercial revenues," he said.
"The political nature of the ICC board and its members means it's going to be a difficult concept to sell. There is an over-riding need for boards to be absolutely in control of their destiny, and going with a Test championship would hand over a lot of power to the ICC. A lot of boards don't want to do this - that selfish mind-set isn't in the best interests of the game."
Ahead of England's departure to the UAE for two Twenty20s against Pakistan, the England offspinner Graeme Swann said the squad was fully aware of the dangers of match-fixing. "There are guys from the [ICC] Anti-Corruption Unit who travel all year round with us and everyone is fully educated about the dangers. It probably does go on in some form with some teams and some players, but you never know who it is. I certainly don't think any of this England team could be considered match-fixers.
"We haven't been given any warnings specifically for this trip. You'd have to be an absolute idiot to do it."