Match fixing in cricket May 26, 2010

Shakib confirms fixing approach

Bangladesh's captain, Shakib Al Hasan, has confirmed he received an approach from an unknown person whom he believed wanted him to manipulate the result of a one-day international against Ireland.

The incident is believed to have taken place in Dhaka in March 2008, and involved a brief phonecall on the eve of an ODI series against Ireland in which Shakib, who was not captain at the time, was offered "sponsorship" in return for his under-performance.

In accordance with the strict guidelines of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, Shakib immediately reported the approach to a Bangladesh Cricket Board official and to Colonel Qaza Noor, the ACSU's regional manager, and never heard from the caller again. Bangladesh had been expected to win the contest, and duly did, by a comfortable 3-0 margin.

"It was a long time ago, probably two-and-a-half years ago, in our home conditions against Ireland," Shakib said on the eve of the first Test against England at Lord's. "I didn't talk to him much because we had a team meeting to go to, so I told him 'I'll talk to you later' and immediately told a member of the board and the ICC guy. They took action and after that he never called me again."

Shakib's revelations come on the same day that the Daily Telegraph revealed that a senior county cricketer was asked to "name his price" to fix the result of televised one-day matches in English domestic cricket, and the ECB later confirmed two players had reported approaches to them. It confirms the fears of the outgoing head of the ACSU, Lord Condon, that the threat of match fixing will never be entirely stamped out, and that it could "spread like a rash" if the game's players and administrators relax their vigilance.

"Cricket probably has the strongest anti-corruption code for players and support staff of any international sport," said Condon. "The modern generation of players know that if they bet on games, underperform for fixing, or even if they don't report an approach that is a disciplinary offence in itself. If we have due reason we can ask for their phone records, and they have to provide them.

"We introduced an education programme so that anyone who wanted to play international cricket had to go through a programme that raised their awareness of who the fixers were, how they fixed, and how they groomed players. That has been very well thought out and very useful, because we now have a generation of players who are supportive of what we are trying to do, and aware of how the fixers operate. They are the providers of the most important intelligence that we get."

Shakib added that the exact nature of the deal that the phone-caller was proposing was never fully revealed. "We didn't have time to discuss all the things, and what I should do," he said. "I took the phone, and from the way he was talking, I thought he might do something, so I told someone. He never exactly told me he wanted me to fix a match, he just told me he wanted to be my sponsor.

"I can't speak for anyone else, but as far as I'm concerned my head wasn't turned at that time," he added. "What I feel is I do not care about the money. I want to play for my country, because that is a great pride for me, and I want to continue to do well for my country. As far as my family is concerned we are settled enough to lead our lives, so I am not concerned about those monies. If I play well for the next ten years, the money will come and I won't have to worry about it."

England's captain, Andrew Strauss, said: "I've never heard or had any reason to suspect that a game I've played in has been fixed in any way. If it is happening, it needs to be stamped out straight away. There's no place for it in any form of cricket, and we've got a duty as players to make sure that if we hear of it, or are approached by someone, we come forward and report it straight away.

"It's the only way of ironing it out. For players to be tempted by taking money is ludicrous in my mind. The authorities are doing everything they can, but there is a huge responsibility on the players to make sure it doesn't take hold and spread."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo