Condon's remit to restore 'lost spirit'

Sir Paul Condon, the director of the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit, has begun his investigations, and pledged that nothing will be excluded from the remit of his five-man team. As this includes officials from member boards, as well as players, the net will have to be strong enough to catch big fish as well as small.

Sir Paul Condon, the director of the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit, has begun his investigations, and pledged that nothing will be excluded from the remit of his five-man team. As this includes officials from member boards, as well as players, the net will have to be strong enough to catch big fish as well as small.

Although Condon stressed the independence of his unit - "We report only to the ICC's Code of Conduct Commission, chaired by Lord Griffiths" - he and his team will rely on the co-operation of each country's cricket Board. Yet that could dry up if too many awkward questions are asked, especially those concerning past TV rights.

The undertaking appears to be a political and legal minefield, something the 53-year old Condon, himself a law graduate of Oxford University, admitted here yesterday.

"Our task is to review matters already known, to support those now under way, and to deal with any new instances we become aware of. I'm not judge and jury on matters and we have no legal powers, but we do have networks with law enforcement around the world and can support criminal investigations."

With a small office in London, the latest in information-collation software and a budget of £2.6m at his disposal, results will be expected, though Condon warned that his three-year commitment, until the next World Cup in 2003, will be "a marathon rather than a 100 metres sprint."

So far, he has met with Indian police and those holding the King inquiry in South Africa, but has plans to visit all cricketing countries.

"I think my unit can make a real difference and help cricket recover some of its lost spirit," Condon said. "It's been a hectic few months, but I believe there is now a resolve within the game to tackle the problem.

"You are never going to eradicate malpractice completely, but the challenge is to keep it to an absolute minimum. I played cricket as a young man and I'd love to leave the game in better shape than I found it when I took this job."

* Lawyers for South Africa's disgraced former captain, Hansie Cronje, are threatening to sue the United Cricket Board following his life ban unless it is withdrawn by this afternoon.

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