Bribery is rife, says Rice

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The Independent Online

Clive Rice, the South African Test selector, claimed last night that bribery and blackmail attempts are rife in world cricket and says the International Cricket Council is to blame for allowing the problem to become "a festering sore".

Reacting to the sacking of Hansie Cronje, the South African captain, amid allegations that he accepted money for supplying information to a bookmaker, Rice said he was aware of "plenty of offers" made to both players and umpires.

"Some will have been rejected but some accepted," he said. "It has been going on for a number of years. But the ICC has failed to address the problem and now it has become a festering sore."

Rice, now back in England in his role as Nottinghamshire's cricket manager, did not name individuals but claimed he has regularly heard of bribery attempts. "When you hear about some of the offers you realise it is a lot more rife than people think," he said. "Players and umpires are being approached. There are offers flying around because the stakes are high. It happens all the time because the game is not adequately policed."

Rice believes that bookmakers hook players by paying them for what seems to be innocuous information. "They [bookmakers] offer a payment for information and the moment the guy accepts the money he is locked in. And then where does it stop? The bookmaker records the telephone conversation and if [the player] does not play ball over a future request, maybe to fix a match, he releases the tape. The temptation is there and because the ICC has not addressed the problem people will keep doing it.

"I feel sorry for Hansie that he has allowed himself to get mixed up in it. I am amazed he could even contemplate it. He has destroyed his credibility, his contract with the SACB, his advertising contracts - all for a few thousand dollars."

Allan Donald, South Africa's fast bowler, suggested Cronje had been set up. "By the looks of it he was done in. He got a mobile phone which was tapped. His phone in his room was tapped," Donald said. "But it doesn't matter. If you accept money you are leaving yourself open. It was an error of judgement. If he is guilty he deserves it, but let it be sorted out by the proper authorities and justice will be done in the end."