Cricket inquiry launched after six umpires 'agree to fix games'
First accusations against match officials brings immediate response from ICC
THE world of cricket was rocked by fresh allegations of match-fixing on Monday night following a sting operation by Indian television reporters - and the latest claims have the potential to be the most troubling yet. According to the India TV channel, six first-class umpires declared themselves willing to fix matches in return for money.
In the decade since South African captain Hansie Cronjie was revealed to be a serial match-fixer, a trickle of other players have been exposed. But never before has the finger been pointed at match officials.
According to the BBC, the International Cricket Council has launched an “urgent investigation” into the claims and last night issued a statement, saying: "The ICC and its relevant members have been made aware of the allegations made by India TV this evening and calls on the station to turn over any information which can assist the ICC's urgent investigations into this matter.”
Reporters from India TV – described as a “little known” channel by The Guardian - posed as representatives of a sports management company, promising the umpires match assignments around the world.
The Times of India reports that two of the umpires – Nadeem Ghauri of Pakistan and Nadir Shah (above) of Bangladesh - “appeared to agree to give wrong decisions” during discussions.
Sagara Gallage from Sri Lanka allegedly agreed to divulge information about a Twenty20 World Cup warm-up match between India and Pakistan. It’s said that in return for 50,000 rupees [about £600] he would “leak information on the pitch, weather, toss, and even the playing elevens”.
Another Sri Lankan umpire, Maurice Winston, allegedly handed over information about England and Australia when they played a warm-up match on 17 September. He is accused of receiving a similar fee as Gallage for passing on the details about the conditions and the toss 90 minutes before the start of the Twenty20 game.
All the umpires involved have denied the allegations, with Sri Lanka’s The Nation reporting that Ghauri – who has stood in 43 one-day internationals - claims the “ the video was presented out of context”. Shah responded to the accusations by labelling them “absolutely rubbish".
Of the six umpires caught up in the allegations, only Shah is a current member of the ICC umpires’ panel and he wasn’t involved in the recent Twenty20 World Cup.
It’s not the first time, however, that the television channel has targeted cricket impropriety. In May this year a similar undercover operation led to the Indian cricket board banning one player for life and suspending four others for corruption.
According to the Times of India, the chairman of the Sri Lanka cricket board, Nishantha Ranatunga, was left “stunned” by the allegations, telling the paper the board has “zero tolerance level against doping and corrupt activities. We are waiting for the ICC to launch an investigation into this and once the probe is over, we'll take necessary action.”