Crick­eters told to be on guard

Gambling syn­di­cates on prowl in SA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART HESS and SAMEER NAIK

SOUTH African crick­eters have been alerted about pos­si­ble ap­proaches from il­le­gal gambling syn­di­cates to fix lo­cal matches af­ter Cricket South Africa launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion in the do­mes­tic game.

Cricket SA and the South Africa Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion (Saca) com­mu­ni­cated with play­ers via e-mail, SMS and phone yes­ter­day, in­struct­ing them to be wary about any ap­proaches to fix do­mes­tic matches.

“We have re­minded play­ers of their obli­ga­tions un­der the an­ticor­rup­tion code, that they have to com­mu­ni­cate with us or Cricket SA about any al­leged or po­ten­tial ap­proaches re­gard­ing fix­ing,” as­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Ir­ish said.

Saca and Cricket SA are keep­ing mum about the de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion other than to out­line that an “in­ter­na­tional syn­di­cate is at­tempt­ing to cor­rupt do­mes­tic cricket in South Africa”.

In a state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Cricket SA said its in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­ing un­der­taken by its anti-cor­rup­tion and se­cu­rity unit, with as­sis­tance from the In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil, and could in­volve the South African Po­lice Ser­vice.

“This is a timely re­minder that we can never drop our guard in pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of the game at ev­ery level,” said CSA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ha­roon Lor­gat. “We have an ef­fec­tive part­ner­ship with the South African Crick­eters’ As­so­ci­a­tion to en­sure that all our play­ers, sup­port staff and ad­min­is­tra­tors are well ed­u­cated about the ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties of cor­rupt peo­ple and are aware of the con­se­quences of fall­ing vic­tim to any shady ap­proaches. We will re­lent­lessly pur­sue un­der our code and the law of the land any per­sons we be­lieve to be in­volved in cor­rupt­ing the game and, with as­sis­tance from the po­lice, we will also seek crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.”

The RamSlam T20 com­pe­ti­tion, which started last week, is the only South African do­mes­tic cricket tour­na­ment to be broad­cast in­ter­na­tion­ally. Though no one at CSA or Saca would con­firm the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lates to that com­pe­ti­tion, matches broad­cast to the Asian sub-con­ti­nent, where the ma­jor­ity of il­le­gal bet­ting syn­di­cates are based, are al­ways an at­trac­tion for fix­ing.

Saca con­ducts an­nual work­shops be­fore the start of the sea­son with lo­cal pro­fes­sional play­ers to high­light the im­por­tance of re­port­ing any ap­proaches re­gard­ing match fix­ing and to be aware of at­tempts at syn­di­cates draw­ing them into cor­rup­tion.

Cricket SA an­nounced be­fore the tour­na­ment be­gan the RamSlam would be broad­cast on the Asian sub-con­ti­nent through the Sony Six chan­nel, in England on SkyS­ports, and in the US on Wil­low TV. In ad­di­tion, matches are also streamed on­line. Broadcasting matches in­ter­na­tion­ally pro­vides a win­dow for lo­cal play­ers who are not in the na­tional team to pos­si­bly earn a big-pay­ing con­tract in one of the wealth­ier T20 leagues, either in the Caribbean, England or in In­dia.

The T20 for­mat has be­come a big at­trac­tion for bet­ting syn­di­cates. The wealth­i­est T20 tour­na­ment, the In­dian Pre­mier League, has been mired in cor­rup­tion that first sur­faced over spot fix­ing which led to the ar­rest of three play­ers in 2013.

To date, three South African crick­eters have been banned by the ICC for match fix­ing in in­ter­na­tional cricket games.

In Oc­to­ber 2000, former Proteas skip­per Han­sie Cronje was handed a life­time ban af­ter be­ing found guilty of ac­cept­ing bribes for fix­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket matches.

In the same year, Her­schelle Gibbs and Henry Wil­liams were both handed six-month bans for match fix­ing.

In an in­ter­view with ic­c­cricket.com two months ago, ICC anti-cor­rup­tion unit chief Sir Ron­nie Flana­gan ad­mit­ted cor­rup­tion in cricket could not be erad­i­cated to­tally.

Flana­gan de­scribed those in­volved in cricket cor­rup­tion as or­gan­ised crim­i­nals. “One thing I have no doubt about is that they are most evil. Th­ese are or­gan­ised crim­i­nals. Th­ese are mem­bers of or­gan­ised crim­i­nal gangs across the world.”

NOVEM­BER 7 2015

TIMELY: Cricket South Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive Ha­roon Lor­gat.

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