Ian Marshall: New T20 tournaments new opportunities for corrupters

Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman, reported to being approached by an Indian bookie to rig Afghan Premier League matches starting next month.

ICC chief executive, Dave Richardson agrees that the administrators review the criteria for officially recognising such events. (file photo)   -  AFP

Forty-eight hours after Afghanistan wicket-keeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad reported an approach by an Indian bookie to rig matches during the forthcoming Afghan Premier League, Ian Marshall, the chief of the International Cricket Council's (ICC's) Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), stressed that mushrooming of T20 and private leagues is the biggest threat to modern-day cricket.

“The corrupters love the explosion of T20 tournaments. They have suddenly given them a host of new opportunities to try and influence these events. Great to have these events around, great way to develop and grow cricket to new regions but they are also new opportunities for the corrupters,” Marshall said at the ICC headquarters on Monday.

“They can particularly like the T20s and if they can, they will try and get into the franchises; they will try and get the financial backing; they will try and gain influence over the T20 league. We have had several jobs we have dealt with related to T20 leagues. And if they can't get into a T20 league, how about designing your own corrupt tournament. And we've seen examples of corrupters create an entire event only for the corruption.”

Over the last couple of years, a host of private T20 leagues – and at times even shorter formats – mushrooming across the globe, where corruption is found to be rampant. David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, agreed that it was time the administrators relooked at the criteria for officially recognising such events.

“Yes, we already are actually reviewing our regulations around the whole process. The intention is to introduce minimum standards, not as a barrier to entry but simply as a mechanism to better control who is involved in these leagues, who is putting them on and minimise the risk of them being corrupt,” Richardson said.

Marshall explained the ACU has been adopting a two-pronged approach to deal with the menace of corruption in cricket ever since he took charge a year ago. “Within the game, use education, use prevention, make the whole game resistant to these people who want to poison it. For those outside the game, make everything as possible within the law to disrupt their activities to keep the game right,” Marshall said.

In the last year, the ACU has investigated 32 cases of corrupt approaches. Five of these approaches have been to international captains. Marshall underlined on the need of corrupt elements to try and trap the captains. “Corrputers love captains. We have had five captains approached in the last 12 months. Think back in history to some of the most famous corruption cases in cricket and you'll know that the corrupters chase captains because obviously the captain gets to control bowling changes, the approach, fielding changes, etc.,” he said.

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