Steve Waugh backs lie detectors to tackle corruption
Steve Waugh has undergone a lie-detector test to show how the system could be used to help track down players involved in fixing cricket matches.
Waugh, a member of the MCC Cricket Committee who were meeting at Lord's this week, proposed that polygraphs could be used to tackle corruption during the group's last meeting in Perth late last year. Initially there was much scepticism but Keith Bradshaw, the MCC chief executive, offered his support and a committee was formed with Waugh, Bradshaw, Courtney Walsh and Barry Richards.
Waugh then felt he should find out what the procedure involved and he passed the test conclusively. "As a former captain I wouldn't ask my players to do anything I wasn't willing to do myself, so I thought the same should apply here," he said. "I thought I needed to find out what a polygraph test is and go through the process to see if it was a possibility for the future.
"It was very nerve-wracking to go through the process, being sat in a room having your heart rate monitored, your blood volume, your blood pressure, your perspiration. There were a lot of devices I was attached to. The test went for two hours and by the end of it I was fairly convinced that if someone had something to hide they would be found out."
The test was conducted by Steven van Aperen, a former senior policeman in Victoria, who has also worked in the United States. However, any use of polygraphs in the future faces a huge number of hurdles and remains unlikely. Even if it passed all the legal battles it could never be made compulsory and there are doubts about the reliability of tests, although van Aperen said there was "96-98% accuracy."
"We know how hard it is to catch players," Waugh said. "There have been a lot of rumours about what is going on so it's about looking to the future. We've looked at different options and one of those might to get some younger players to pledge to do a polygraph test to lead the way.
"We know we haven't got all the answers but think this may be a piece of the puzzle that will help the game move forward. It could be a good tool for those wrongly accused. Maybe if there are cricketers out there doing the wrong thing it will make them think. We want to further explore that closely with the ICC."
The other anti-corruption measure put forward by the cricket committee was that the ICC's Anti Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) should have the power to perform sting operations similar to that staged by the News of the World last year against Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, had previously talked about that possibility earlier this year. "I thought when this issue came up last year that perhaps we could have a 'mystery shopper'," he said. "In other words, some people posing as bookmakers approach players and see if those players report along with our codes of conduct."
Waugh said that such operations had shown their effectiveness. "In the past players have been caught. I don't think it's ideal, but if that's the way that wrongdoers can be caught then it could be an option but I don't think it should be the No. 1 option."
Tony Lewis, the MCC Cricket Committee chairman, said the group was only set up a few months ago, and that the problem of corruption wasn't going to be solved quickly. "It's a brave lead by Steve Waugh because having his name attached to it means it will be taken seriously."
The committee was also very strong in its belief that any captain or coach found guilty of corruption should face life bans. "They are the leaders of the team," Waugh said. "They need to shape the values of the team and should be taken out of the game for life."
Among the other issues discussed by the committee was the prospect of day-night Test cricket, which the MCC have been at the forefront of. Rahul Dravid, a member of the committee who played against the pink ball in the MCC-Champion County game in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, gave a presentation and said the one issue he had was the twilight period, with a suggestion that the problem could be avoided by scheduling an interval.
Martin Crowe said he would be trying to get the format introduced into New Zealand's first-class cricket next season. The committee believes the pink ball has now shown its durability, and produced an 80-over ball which had retained its colour as evidence.
They expressed their frustration that the ICC continued to drag its heels in the process but admitted further trials were needed. "It's going to take a couple of more years unfortunately, despite the fact we think it's a viable format," John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, said. "There probably hasn't enough enthusiasm so far. The ICC have to be more proactive as an option for member countries to use then the momentum will gather."
The MCC also offered itself as an independent body, along with Imperial College London, to help the ICC undertake the testing off DRS in order to prove its accuracy.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo