Qadeer Ahmed, the UAE medium pacer, has been banned for five years by the ICC for committing six breaches of the governing body's anti-corruption code. Ahmed's ban will be backdated to October 16, 2019, when he was provisionally suspended by the ICC along with his colleagues Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar, both of whom have since been handed eight-year bans.
The ICC anti-corruption unit found 35-year-old Ahmed, who played 11 ODIs and ten T20Is between 2015 and 2019, guilty on counts that included failing to disclose approaches during two bilateral series the UAE played away in 2019. The first was in Zimbabwe in April, where Ahmed was offered AED 60,000-70,000 (US$ 16,000 to 19,000 approx) by the corruptors. Then, in August in Netherlands, Ahmed was again found to be in contact with corruptors, and the ACU subsequently suspended him just at the start of the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, held in Zimbabwe in October-November.
The ICC said in a media statement on Wednesday that Ahmed had failed to disclose details of the approaches from corruptors, or that he provided inside information in August 2019 to a person, who had played with club cricket with him in the UAE.
That person is understood to be Mehardeep Chhayakar, named "Mr Z" in the ACU findings, which were published by the ICC on Wednesday. Chhayakar knew Ahmed while playing domestic cricket in Ajman in the UAE.
On Wednesday, the ICC also charged Chhayakar for breaching half a dozen counts of the anti-corruption code. He was charged for "attempting to contrive to fix aspects" of games in the Zimbabwe vs UAE series in April 2019 as well as at the Global T20 Canada league in 2019. Chhayakar was also charged with trying to "induce and/or solicit" a participant involved in both the Zimbabwe-UAE series as well as at the GT20 Canada. Chhayakar, who the ICC said has refused to cooperate with the investigation, has 14 days from April 15 (the day he was charged) to respond.
Ahmed is originally from Pakistan, and has been there since leaving the UAE midway into the ACU investigation. Before that, Ahmed had attended two interviews with the ACU team, held on October 6 and 9, 2019. He would talk to the ACU team again in April 2020, before quitting midway through again.
How was Ahmed approached?
Ahmed told the ACU that Chhayakar had been a "close associate" and he had helped him get into various teams in the UAE club circuit. In early 2019, Chhayakar told Ahmed he could help him get into one of the T10 franchises in a tournament scheduled for November 2019 in the UAE. To that end, Chhayakar put Ahmed in touch with a "Mr Y", who ESPNcricinfo understands is Dinesh Talwar, who is on the ACU's list of corruptors.
"[Mr Z] [Chhayakar] had previously connected him with an individual named [Mr Y] [Talwar] (a known corrupter), on the basis that [Mr Y] might be able to get him into a T10 team which [Mr Y] was looking to buy into," the ICC elaborated.
Chhayakar and Talwar then made their first approach to Ahmed just as he was preparing to leave for Zimbabwe. "About a week to 10 days before Mr Khan [Ahmed] travelled to Zimbabwe in April 2019 to participate as a member of the UAE squad in the Zimbabwe v UAE series, [Mr Z] and [Mr Y] approached him and offered him 60,000-70,000 dirhams to "do bad bowling" in the Zimbabwe v UAE series. In particular, they asked him to give away 70/80 runs while bowling."
"His five-year period of ineligibility is a reflection of the seriousness of his breaches and the number of charges. He has accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed regret for those he has let down"
Alex Marshall, general manager of the ICC's integrity unit
It could not be confirmed if Ahmed ended up receiving the money. Ahmed, the ACU found, continued to meet Chhayakar, who would contact him before a series or tournament. Ahmed then shared inside information, especially of bowling plans in case he was playing, from the series against the Netherlands.
"He had provided Inside Information to [Mr Z], at [Mr Z]'s request, in August 2019, namely which overs he would be bowling if he played in the Netherlands v UAE series that month."
Ahmed agreed he was aware of the ACU rules that he had breached, as he failed to come clean about being approached, being offered money, and providing inside information to corruptors. However, the ICC said that Ahmed had questioned the timing of suspending members of the UAE team just prior to the World Cup qualifiers.
"He questioned why the ACU had acted against members of the UAE team prior to the start of the ICC World T20 Qualifiers in October 2019 because if it had not, he said that the ACU would have been able to collect a lot of information about corruption (i.e. inferring that the ACU's action in questioning members of the UAE team had disrupted planned corruption)."
According to the ICC, Ahmed suddenly left for Pakistan on October 11, 2019 without the knowledge of either the ACU or the Emirates Cricket Board. The ACU did track Ahmed down and conducted another interview on April 18 last year. However, Ahmed "stopped the interview halfway through, stating that he had to go to work". Subsequently, he "refused" to complete a rescheduled interview and said he would face the ICC anti-corruption tribunal instead.
Last week, on April 14, Ahmed agreed to all the ACU sanctions without facing the tribunal.
Alex Marshall, general manager of the ICC's integrity unit, said in a statement, "He [Ahmed] has accepted he did wrong and requested an agreed sanction in place of a Tribunal. His five-year period of ineligibility is a reflection of the seriousness of his breaches and the number of charges. He has accepted responsibility for his actions and expressed regret for those he has let down."
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo