Cricket Australia boss reacts to match-fixing farce
CRICKET Australia chief executive James Sutherland has spoken of his concern about the rising risk of match-fixing in domestic leagues around the world in the wake of the match-fixing farce that is currently under investigation from the ICC.
It emerged on Wednesday that the ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit is investigating what, on the surface, appears to be the most blatant example of match-fixing in cricket history.
Footage surfaced of a match placed in the privately run All-Time Ajmal league in the UAE last week which showed batsmen - chasing a modest target of 136 - showing skant regard for their wicket as they were bowled out for 46.
They danced down the wicket and showed little urgency in getting back to their crease - and were victims of calamitous run-outs.
The tournament was reportedly called off after its first day after authorities refused to allow further use of the ground - and after footage of the collapse went viral, the ICC stepped in and opened an investigation.
The spectre of match-fixing loomed large over the Australian summer when, on the eve of the third Ashes Test in Perth, damning allegations were splashed across the front pages of a notorious English tabloid newspaper.
Two men claiming to be Indian bookmakers offered to sell details relating to rigged periods of player - which could then be used for betting purposes.
They amounted to nothing, but served as a reminder to Sutherland and cricket authorities around the world to never let their guards down.
"Certainly here in Australia it's a very high priority for us that the integrity of the competition, integrity of the contest goes to the heart of a sports fans' confidence and faith in the competition and the players and everything else," Sutherland told SEN's Whateley on Wednesday.
Among the threats made by alleged bookies during the Perth Test sting was that they had access to players who could "fix" Big Bash League matches as well as others in the Indian Premier League and Bangladesh league.
These allegations were also never proven and there's no suggestion of any illegal activity taking place in the Australian T20 juggernaut - but Sutherland admitted there was a level of concern surrounding the proliferation of domestic competitions, including that in the UAE which found itself under the spotlight on Wednesday.
"I think there's risk around some of these domestic leagues - you've just mentioned one that I would've thought, at best, is a third tier league in an associate member country of the ICC," Sutherland continued.
"I'm always pleased to hear the ICC stepping in and taking action. That's a strong message."
But he said the message needed to be delivered by the world's most powerful nations and figures.
"I think also at high-level, international cricket level, the member countries and the ICC board need to make sure that any sort of proliferation of domestic T20 leagues is tightly controlled - particularly around professional players," he said.
"And to make sure that the bar is really high around standards that may slip to allow a great propensity for corruption.
"I think we're in a reasonable position there but there's nothing to be complacent about."