Corruption is not rampant insists ICC's anti-corruption head

 

Cricket has become complacent and has to
do more to combat the "massive problem" of corruption in the sport, the game's
former anti-corruption chief warned today after three Pakistan players were
jailed in London for spot-fixing.

Lord Condon, the ex-policeman who is the former head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, said the popularity of Twenty20 cricket had become a turning point for the game.

Condon told Sky Sports News: "Cricket has got a massive ongoing problem. It's got to keep its nerve. The players have got to do more and the ICC has got to do more. National boards have got to do more.

"A small group of former cops or military guys are not going to stop corruption any more than police forces stop all crime. This has got to be a collaborative effort from the ICC, the national boards and most importantly of all the international cricketers."

Pakistan's former Test captain Salman Butt received a 30-month sentence at Southwark Crown Court today, fast bowler Mohammad Asif 12 months and Mohammad Amir six months.

Condon added: "They betrayed their national team and they betrayed cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world.

"Sadly I'm afraid they deserved exactly what happened to them today.

"I think it gives a very loud message. I think too many people had got complacent in recent years.

"They either thought fixing had gone away completely or it was not a huge problem or that it didn't really matter. It does matter.

"It's time for everyone to stand up again and be counted. There is no room for this in cricket.

"Yes, people can make money out of cricket. Yes, lawful gambling is fine. Twenty20 is a great game but let's not lose the heart and soul of cricket and the integrity that should run through cricket like a stick of rock."

Condon's successor is Sir Ronnie Flanagan, and he insisted those involved in match-fixing are only "a tiny number" but admits the spot-fixing scandal is not an isolated case.

He said: "I think it (corruption) is certainly not rampant in the world of cricket. I think it is engaged in by a tiny number of people.

"Sadly I wouldn't say the instances we have seen brought to justice are totally isolated either. They indicate we must be ever vigilant, they indicate that the hard work and the wonderful platform established by Lord Condon, which we have been able to build upon, is such we must never be complacent and ever vigilant.

"My message to the followers of cricket is keep following, keep loving this wonderful game and don't be thinking that corruption is rampant within the game."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan hopes the jail terms will "send shock waves through the game" but that the trio should have been banned for life by the ICC. He also believes others involved in corruption in cricket still need to be identified.

Vaughan told BBC Radio 5 live: "It hits home how big a deal this has been to think three cricketers are going to be behind bars for varying lengths of time.

"I hope it sends a shock wave through the game, but I still believe there are more out there [involved in corruption] and that more can be done to catch those apart from those three."

In relation to the ICC five-year bans, Vaughan added: "They could have done it a few months ago and banned these players for life."

Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Nadeem Sarwar said the jail terms made it "a sad day for Pakistan cricket" but that there was little sympathy in the country for the trio.

The PCB have also outlined a series of steps they are taking to combat corruption.

Sarwar said: "The conviction and sentencing of some Pakistani Test players is a sad day for Pakistan cricket.

"Instead of having pride in playing for their country, these players chose to disappoint their supporters, damage the image of their country and bring the noble game of cricket into disrepute. There is little sympathy in Pakistan for the sorry pass they have come to."

Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations' (FICA), expressed "mixed emotions" of sadness and satisfaction.

May said: "I have concern that the practice of spot-fixing and other types of fixing still appear to be prevalent in our game despite the millions spent by the ICC.

"There is sadness that three young cricketers will face jail time, but satisfaction that the prosecution has been able to identify corruption and deliver a loud and clear message to players of all sports, that if you are caught cheating the integrity of sport you will be prosecuted and face severe penalties."

PA

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