Audio tape claims match-fixing in ICL

The six teams participating in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) ESPNcricinfo Ltd

A new match-fixing controversy has surfaced with the release of an audio tape that purports to be of two Pakistan Cricket Board officials discussing the ICL.

The tape, the audio of which is not very clear, allegedly has a member of the national selection committee, Mohammad Ilyas, telling PCB chief operating officer Saleem Altaf how matches were fixed in the ICL. Ilyas is apparently referring to the first edition of the ICL, in which his son-in-law Imran Farhat was a participant.

The voice allegedly that of Ilyas, a former Test player, speaks about how several Pakistani players fixed matches and also how a discarded Test batsman used to go out to bat drunk in the unauthorised league.

The audio tape has nothing much coming from Altaf who is heard saying mostly "yes, yes, okay, okay".

Ilyas has denied that his is one of the voices on tape - the conversation is in Punjabi - while Altaf said he had not heard the tape. "The voice has been doctored. Someone is trying to damage Pakistan cricket and why would I say something to jeopardise the career of my son-in-law," Ilyas said.

But a former official of the Pakistan Cricket Board, who was in a key position during the tenure of former PCB chief Nasim Ashraf, admitted that the tape was from a collection of recordings made off Altaf's telephone line on Ashraf's instructions.

"The telephone conversations of Altaf were being taped secretly and he didn't know about it. But it is wrong if someone has released publicly what is a private and confidential tape," the official said.

Ashraf had sacked Altaf from his position as COO in July, 2008 on the basis of his taped conversations in which Altaf was accused of leaking out confidential information of the board. Altaf took the PCB to court and was re-appointed after Ijaz Butt took over as board president.

Speaking about the tape, Altaf said: "Ilyas has this habit of even talking on [the basis of] hearsay. Everyone knows that. But if anything it must have been a general conversation, nothing more."

An ICL spokesperson said there was no truth in these allegations. "The ICL has operated as a private league, but we followed stringent norms in monitoring the matches using the anti-corruption model that is being used by the ICC," he said. "We did not come across any instance of match-fixing."

The audio tape was sent to media representatives from an unknown e-mail address and was also uploaded, with English subtitles, on Youtube.