English newspaper The Sun has released a report which claims to have uncovered match-fixers attempting to rig the Third Ashes Test. The Perth Test between Australia and England started on Thursday.
The Sun reported that they had been approached by match-fixers. They released a video showing three men discussing the intricacies of the fixing, which included the involvement of certain players in assuring the outcomes of specific markets.
The Sun compiled a dossier about the claims, in which they stated that the match-fixers had asked for up to £140,000 GBP for the information. Reportedly, they claimed that players would make subtle signals on the field which ‘spotters’ in the crowd would observe. These signals would allegedly suggest something about an upcoming market, for example how many runs would be scored in the next over. The spotters would then pass on information to bookies, who would be able to bet large sums of money on a market with an assurance that it would come to fruition.
The Sun passed the information they had gathered to the ICC, who have now launched a full investigation into the controversy.
According to the Australian and English Cricket Boards, nobody.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland held a press conference in which he stated that there was ‘no evidence, substance or justification based on the dossier of information the ICC has received’. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine echoed these sentiments, saying that ‘all of our guys have been educated on that sort of stuff for a long time…so we certainly know what’s right and wrong and I know there’s no one in our team who’s involved in any way’.
Similarly, England denied the allegations, releasing a statement which said that ‘ECB work closely with the ICC and their anti-corruption unit to protect the integrity of the international game.’
Alex Marshall, head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit, claimed that ‘there is no evidence…to suggest the current Test Match has been corrupted’.
Clearly, the video and report released by The Sun suggests that there was an intention by international match-fixers to alter the outcome of the Perth Test. Whether this intention was ever going to result in any tangible outcome is another story, but it reflects the importance of targeting such allegations at the source.
Previously, there has been a focus on the players involved in such scandals, rather than the fixers themselves. While any players found to be involved in corruption certainly deserve to be dealt with harshly, there is something to be said for an increased focus on the head of the snake, so to speak.
Recently, the ICC anti-corruption is believed to have placed a renewed focus on doing just that. In the past, there has been a seeming unwillingness to approach the issue from a top-down perspective. Punishing the players involved is necessary, but it alone is not sufficient to stamp out corruption from the game as it does not adequately penalise those who initiate the process.
In this scenario, it appears the match-fixers have been caught out, and no players seem to be involved. This certainly has the potential to be a step forward in the eradication of match-fixing, for two reasons. Firstly, the names and faces of the fixers are now out in the world for all to see. Secondly, the players appear, at least according to statements from all involved, to have resisted any temptations to get involved.
Match-fixing has the capacity to be an enormous problem for world cricket, and punters around the globe have every right to be concerned by it. It would be a brave person to place their money on an outcome which has potentially already been decided. Fortunately, the signs are that the Perth Test has avoided becoming embroiled in this controversy. It looks like a typically entertaining WACA pitch, and the match appears to be a genuine, and fair, contest between bat and ball.