In Cricket, Fixing Concerns Rise as Bets and Matches Multiply

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Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed, right, was reported to have alerted cricket authorities to an approach by gamblers trying to get him to corrupt a match. Rahat Dar/European Pressphoto Agency

ADELAIDE, Australia — Cricket and gambling have always been inextricably linked. In 1744, the sport’s laws were codified largely to make betting on the game easier, and allegations of match-fixing have dogged the sport ever since. Most recently, cricket was ravaged by a series of scandals affecting the top of the men’s international game in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Now cricket officials fear a new fixing epidemic not far off. This year, five Pakistani international cricketers have been suspended for breaking anti-corruption protocols or banned for fixing matches during the Pakistan Super League. In the last two months alone, three international captains reported being approached by match-fixers, including two — Zimbabwe’s Graeme Cremer and Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed — from the dozen elite nations who play Test cricket, the five-day version of the sport.

While all three captains reported the approaches to cricket authorities — the offers were said to be for sums of up to $150,000 — the incidents reinforced the troubling concern that cricket is still regarded as ripe for fixing.

“It’s a reminder that the threat of corruption in the game is not going away,” said Tony Irish, the executive chairman of the international cricket’s players’ association. “Cricket as a whole has been slow to adjust to the risks of corruption.”

Irish said that he believes there is “a serious risk to the reputation of the entire game.”

The International Cricket Council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, which policies the sport, has expressed alarm at the recent spike in incidents, and it is currently conducting seven investigations into suspected fixing.

Source: The New York Times