England cricket has a hissy fit over match-fixing claims
Documentary alleges that a Test match in 2016 against India was rigged
The England cricket team has been forced to deny “outrageous” match-fixing claims after a documentary alleged that a Test match against India was rigged.
In an unprecedented statement, the English Cricket Board (ECB) said that there is “nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever” in the face of claims of “spot fixing” during the 2016 match in Chennai.
Tom Harrison, chief executive officer of the ECB, said they had discussed the documentary claims with all of the players, adding: “They emphatically deny the allegations, have stated categorically that the claims are false and they have our full support. Neither ECB nor the International Cricket Council (ICC) is aware any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption.”
An undercover journalist, posing as a businessman looking to place bets on the match, filmed a match fixer claiming that he had three England players with whom he arranged spot fixes during the Test in 2016.Aneel Munawar, who is accused of working for organised crime syndicate D Company, was recorded boasting that he has been fixing matches for “six or seven years” and can “fix” up to “60% to 70%” of matches with players in every team.
“I’m telling you, each script I give you will happen, happen and happen,” he said.
Just before the 2016 match began he called a middle-man working for the reporters to tell him how players would perform at certain points in the game.
Though his predictions have not been revealed, Al Jazeera’s documentary Cricket’s Match Fixers claimed that they were accurate.The England players alleged to have been involved, who have not been named, told the documentary makers that they categorically deny allegations “made by a source who is a known criminal”.
The fixers were also caught discussing plans to rig the outcome of England’s first Test in Sri Lanka, scheduled to begin on November 6, by doctoring the pitch to make it impossible for the contest to end in a draw.
Tharange Indika, a groundsman at Galle International Stadium, was suspended by the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket while investigations take place. He denies all allegations against him.“Spot fixing”, which hit the headlines eight years ago when three Pakistan players were jailed over the practice in one of the sport’s biggest scams, has become increasingly common in recent years as it is much harder to detect than throwing an entire match and provides more opportunity for bets.
One former international cricketer previously accused of match fixing, whose identity was concealed, told Al Jazeera: “They give them expensive gifts, like Rolex watches. They give them houses, flats, cars. They send beautiful girls to the players, like models, so they get involved with them.”
He claimed that cheating players could earn up to £200,000 (R3.3-million) a game and were “trapped” into fixing matches.
Joe Root, England’s Test captain, described the allegations against his team as “ridiculous”.
“I am aware that there is a documentary and it is outrageous that our players have been accused. All the players have the full backing of the ECB,” he told a press conference.
He said that they are concentrating on the cricket ahead of the second Test against Pakistan after losing Sunday’s first Test, adding: “All the players have been briefed by the ECB, and been told there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Similar claims have been made against two Australian players in relation to their match against India at Ranchi in March 2017. Cricket bosses there have issued an equally vociferous denials.
The ICC has launched an investigation into the claims made by the documentary, saying that it takes them “very seriously”.
Repeated requests for disclosure of full evidence from the 18-month investigation have not yet been complied with, the governing body said.
Munawar has declined to comment since undercover reporters revealed their identity.
© The Daily Telegraph