Hong Kong approach highlights corruption blind spot
The New Zealand team told the ICC of a suspicious approach during the 2010 Hong Kong Sixes tournament, it has emerged. The news was confirmed by Heath Mills, the New Zealand players' association CEO, who called for cricket's governing body to deploy its anti-corruption officials at this and similar unofficial tournaments, which are held with the ICC's approval.
Members of the New Zealand side, which included Daryl Tuffey, Nathan McCullum and Scott Styris, dined with a man in Hong Kong who introduced himself as a Middle Eastern diamond dealer, but grew uncomfortable when he began offering them products. They reported the interaction to the team manager Steve Wilkins, who in turn informed NZC, and the players were subsequently interviewed by the ICC's anti-corruption unit.
Mills said the process had shown players are now well educated about potential dangers. "We were comfortable with the process New Zealand Cricket followed and the players had done nothing untoward, they were quite open about it," Mills told ESPNCricinfo. "The players informed NZC they were not comfortable with this man's behaviour, having gotten quite close to the team in Hong Kong and starting to offer them various products. That's the sort of thing the ICC tell them is a bit of a red flag."
However Mills argued the episode should provide the catalyst for a greater ICC presence at the event and other such "festivals", which are not official events but take place with the approval of the game's governing body. Without the supervision of the anti-corruption unit, Mills agreed the Sixes constituted a blind spot in the ICC's efforts to rid the game of corruption.
"The Hong Kong Sixes aren't the usual bilateral series or an ICC event, these sorts of events that do take place that are festivals if you like, and obviously if there isn't an ICC anti-corruption official there to police it, a lot of the protocols aren't going to be followed," Mills said. "They have pretty good systems in place now, the anti-corruption guys are around for official events.
"But if we're going to have an international event like this, and we know the game is doing all it can to make sure we have got competitive cricket that no-one is suspicious about, then I know New Zealand cricket are keen to have people monitoring the Sixes."
The Sixes tournament began in 1992 and has featured players including Viv Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Mark and Steve Waugh, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Adam Gilchrist, Jonty Rhodes and Wasim Akram. Australia won the 2010 event after David Warner and Ryan Carters managed to belt 48 runs from the last over of the final against Pakistan.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo