ICC considers amnesty in bid to root out corruption

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Cricketers involved in any form of corruption in the sport may be offered an amnesty if they can provide information to help clear up the biggest crisis facing the game.

The idea is to be put forward at an emergency meeting of the International Cricket Council at Lord's tomorrow and Wednesday, when members of the sport's ruling body are to discuss match-fixing.

The ICC chief executive, David Richards, said: "What we must do is get together all the people who have the best interests of cricket at heart and bring forward the evidence.

"We might have to do that in a discreet fashion; we might have to give an amnesty for people to bring forward that information. I don't have a problem with that. We have one day to clean all this up, put it behind the sport and move into the rest of the century in a fine way."

The match-fixing summit at Lord's is to be attended by the ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya of India, his successor later this year, Australia's Malcolm Gray, plus representatives of all nine Test-playing teams. Calls for the ICC meeting have mounted since four South Africans were charged on 7 April with "cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy related to match-fixing and betting" during their team's one-day series in India in March.

The charges were levelled by Indian police against Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje and Pieter Strydom. They have all denied the accusations. Cronje was subsequently dismissed as South Africa's captain after admitting he took money from bookmakers for information and forecasting on games during a triangular tournament with England and Zimbabwe in South Africa in January.

The crisis grew as Ali Bacher, the managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa alleged that two matches at last year's World Cup were fixed. Bacher, whose allegations were reported in The Australian newspaper 10 days ago, is to be quizzed about his claims at the Lord's meeting.

South Africa's players face life bans from the game for consorting with bookmakers under the terms of new contracts, according to press reports.

The Johannesburg Sunday Times reported: "The South African players' new contracts contain three pages devoted entirely to all forms of dealing with bookmakers. These include a ban on betting, inducing other players to become involved, contriving to influence the result of a game, and receiving money to supply information to bookies; and an obligation to report any knowledge of transgression by other players."

The Pakistani authorities will release the findings of a judicial inquiry into match-fixing within the next two months. The report of the commission, headed by the Lahore High court judge Malik Mohammad Qayyum, has been awaiting action since November.

It is thought that the judge has recommended a life ban on the former captain Salim Malik and Mushtaq Ahmed, sanctions against another former captain, Wasim Akram, and fines for several other players.

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