ICC anti-corruption head keen to ensure clean World T20

Urging players, journalists and other stakeholders of the game to "report" suspicious activities and corrupt approaches, Sir Ronnie announced that the ICC will operate a tournament-specific 24x7 anti-corruption hotline during the ICC World Twenty20.

“Human nature is such that it may not be possible to totally eliminate these corrupters. What we seek to do is to make cricket a very difficult environment to corrupt," Sir Ronnie Flanagan (right) said.   -  AP (File Photo)

Sir Ronnie Flanagan has seen many moons. Cop at 21, chief cop at 47, OBE at 48, knighthood at 50, an additional knighthood at 53, reviewer of the new Iraqi police in British-controlled southern Iraq at 56, and head of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) since the age of 61.

Now 68, and still in fine fettle, the Northern Irishman is a much sober-minded version of himself. At the Cricket Centre here on Sunday, Flanagan made an impassionate case for the committee he chairs at the global organisation. “We are quite a small unit in the ICC. We don't use the police force (because we can’t). But we have good reactions with the police forces of almost every country (that plays cricket). (Our job is) to prevent and disrupt corruption, investigate (matters of corruption) and prosecute (wrongdoers). We have an extensive body of investigators and a very good education programme,” he said with an unmistakeable Northern Irish twang.

Urging players, journalists and other stakeholders of the game to “report” suspicious activities and corrupt approaches, Sir Ronnie announced that the ICC will operate a tournament-specific 24x7 anti-corruption hotline during the ICC World Twenty20.

Fixers are like paedophiles

Likening match-fixers to “paedophiles” who are prepared to spend a long time “grooming” young players, he explained how cricket (or any sport for that matter) can never be completely clean. “It’s like ill-health. You only hope you can control or prevent it by taking medicines,” Sir Ronnie said, adding that sports bodies across the world must work together because if a fixer were to approach a cricketer (and succeed), then he will, in all probability, spread his net elsewhere, too. “It’s about reaching out to similar bodies in horse racing and tennis. I don’t think they (fixers) confine to one sport only. They will engage in corruption across sporting disciplines.”

International team under scanner

Admitting that his job does not allow him to go into specifics, Sir Ronnie raised eyebrows by revealing that an international team is under investigation for its intentions to manipulate events. “…Quite recently we have a reason to believe that members of a particular team have intentions to manipulate events in forthcoming matches. This was an international team but I am not going to go into any details because it is still under our investigation,” he said.

Asked about the consequences of legalising betting in India, a suggestion put forth by the Justice R. M. Lodha Committee, he said, “Honestly, I don’t think it is for me to suggest what a sovereign nation does but I do say that where betting is legalised it is heavily regulated and those regulators work in close conjunction with us. So it does assist us but that’s not for me to suggest what a wonderful country like India should do in terms of its legislation or its law. If it decides that it does pass that then we would be seeking close collaboration with the regulators who would govern what would then be a lawful activity,” he explained.

Amir video

Speaking of Mohammad Amir, the prodigiously talented Pakistani pacer who went astray before making a famous comeback, Sir Ronnie said, “He did make a video for us where he admitted his guilt and described the effect that it had upon him and how long it was. He came forward and volunteered. We have used that in the past in our education with players…”