Cricket League Warned of Corruption Threat

Published July 7, 2008 by OCR Editor

Cricket League Warned of Corruption Threat

The fledgling Indian Premier League, which attracts the world's best players, has been named as a major corruption concern due to the millions of dollars on offer and the lack of policing.

Sir Paul Condon, the head of the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), told an ICC board meeting in Dubai last week that the recently-established Indian Premier League (IPL) offers the greatest threat of match-fixing since the early 1990s.

Birth of a super league
The IPL recently completed its first season, which ran from April to June.  The major attraction of the league was that it was based on the new Twenty20 version of cricket, in which both teams (consisting of 11 men each) bat for only 20 overs (each over consisting of six balls, the equivalent of a pitch in baseball).

This means games last only around three hours, and are far more action-packed than the longer one-day version of the game (where sides are given 50 overs each to bat) and the test version, in which teams have two innings of unlimited overs, and can play for up to five full days, complete with lunch, tea and overnight breaks.

On the back of a successful Twenty20 World Cup and a whole set of international fixtures, the IPL was born. Eight teams from India's biggest cities participated in the inaugural season.  The Board of Control for Cricket in India sold the league's television rights for more than $1billion, and the eight teams were auctioned to the highest bidders for $723 billion (Mumbai Indians the most expensive at $112 billion), giving the league a huge budget with which to attract the world's best players from all the major cricketing countries like Australia, South Africa, England, and of course India, to the IPL.

Corruption charges
The ASU has raised concerns that the Twenty20 phenomenon is hindering their campaign to cleanse cricket of corrupting influences.  As opposed to the one-day and test versions, there is no rankings system for Twenty20 at the international level, and the players don't treat it with as much seriousness, making the sport a target for corrupt bookmakers.

It is believed Condon told the Council, "the IPL brings with it the biggest threat in terms of corruption in the game since the days of cricket in Sharjah." The reference was to a tournament held in the United Arab Emirates in the 1990s, in which match-fixing allegations were so rife that the credibility of tournament winners was brought into question.

Dark days of the 90s
The anti-corruption body led by Condon was established to restore credibility to a sport marred by match-fixing problems in the 1990s. When the allegations were at their peak, barely a week went by without another allegation of match-fixing by or from a top international player.   Many top players were caught for corruption, resulting in even three international captains being given life bans - Pakistan's Salim Malik, India's Mohammad Azharuddin, and the late Hansie Cronje of South Africa.

These days, the ICC fights corruption by ensuring regular policing, a ban on communication devices in dressing rooms, and player education, to combat the attempts by bookmakers to influence players.

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