Corruption in cricket: South Asia
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Aneel Munawar involved in 26 spot-fixing instances
Aneel Munawar, an alleged match-fixer on ICC’s radar, is said to have been involved in 26 spot-fixing instances in six Tests, six ODIs and three World T20 matches between 2011-12, according to Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary released on Sunday (October 21). Titled ‘Cricket’s Match Fixers: The Munawar Files’, the documentary claims fixed passages of play in seven matches by England players, five matches by Australia players, three matches by Pakistan players, and in one match by players from another country.
The high-profile matches under the scanner this time include the 2011 Lord’s Test between England and India and the 2011 Cape Town Test between South Africa and Australia, along with five matches in the 2011 World Cup and three in the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. The documentary also pointed out at successful spot-fixing in each of the three England-Pakistan Tests in 2012 in the UAE.
The documentary pivots around the pictures and recordings - ‘The Munawar Files’ that Al Jazeera’s investigative unit claims to have obtained. The files include recordings of calls made by Munawar to Dinesh Khambat, a subordinate to Dinesh Kalgi who was a serial bookmaker based out of Ahmedabad before he died in 2014. Details of at least three fixes during the 2012 World T20 held in Sri Lanka were provided by Munawar to Kalgi, which included the England-Afghanistan match.
The documentary also revealed a phone call made by Munawar to an unnamed England player just before the start of the 2011 World Cup. He is heard telling the player: “Congratulations for the Ashes. The last payment is ready for going in the account. You will be credited in a week.” The player is heard saying “lovely” in reply, although the audio was distorted to conceal the identity of the player. Al Jazeera claims to have approached the said player, who claimed that the conversation didn’t take place and that the call recording was “fabricated”.
The documentary also revealed pictures of Umar Akmal meeting a ‘D-Company’ associate in the hotel lobby on the night of the fix in the third Pakistan-England Test in Dubai. Akmal and the ‘D-Company’ associate are then photographed with a second man in the hotel lobby, with whom Akmal shakes hands and is seen inspecting a bag. The photographs don’t show Akmal leaving the lobby with the bag.
Akmal, in June this year, was summoned by Pakistan Cricket Board’s anti corruption unit after he made claims that he was approached to fix matches in the Hong Kong Super Sixes, Pakistan’s series against South Africa in the UAE, and the 2015 World Cup. Akmal had said that he was first approached during his second stint in Hong Kong, and was offered as much as USD 200,000 to play two dot balls. He also reported being approached for Pakistan’s group game against India in the 2015 World Cup in one of many approaches before matches against India.
The documentary claims that Munawar successfully predicted 25 out of 26 outcomes; in the one he couldn’t, Munawar missed the mark by a solitary run.
The ICC, towards the end of August 2018, had launched an appeal to identify Munawar while claiming that it had identified every other person in the first documentary and spoken to several of them in connection to match-fixing. However, Al Jazeera dismissed that by stating the ICC had known about Munawar for eight years and “yet, the ICC issued a global appeal to find Munawar only after Al Jazeera informed them it was preparing this documentary.”
Reacting to the documentary, Alex Marshall, general manager of ICC’s ACU, said: “As you would expect we’ll again take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make seriously and will investigate fully. However, I must refute the assertion that cricket does not take the issue of corruption seriously. We have more resources than ever before working to rid out sport of corruption. “The investigation into these allegations has already commenced and will run alongside a number of other live unrelated investigations. Considering the claims, we will work with professional independent betting analysts.”
As it had done earlier, the ICC has again requested the broadcaster to cooperate with the cricket governing body’s investigation into corruption in the sport while appreciating Al Jazeera’s intention to share a copy of its investigation with Interpol.
Interestingly, Marshall, during the recent Asia Cup in Dubai, had hinted, without taking the name of the channel, that ICC was disappointed with Al Jazeera as it didn’t share the raw footage of its sting operations.
Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka
Former Lankan Stalwart Fails To Cooperate with Probe, Given 14 Days To Respond To Charges
Sri Lankan batting legend Sanath Jayasuriya was charged on two counts for non-cooperation in an ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) anticorruption probe and given two weeks to respond by the cricket’s world governing body. The ICC did not specify what exactly prompted its action against the celebrated cricketer, who is a World Cup winner and has played 110 Tests and 445 ODIs for Sri Lanka.
However, a source in Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said that the former player is in the line of fire for “trying to block” an ICC probe which began in 2015. The investigation into Sri Lankan cricket began after Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was banned for three years in 2016 for failing to cooperate with the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). Starting on Monday, Jayasuriya has 14 days from October 15 to respond.
The charges relate to failure or refusal to cooperate with an Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation and obstructing or delaying an investigation, including concealing, tampering with or destroying documentation.
“At first, he refused to join the probe when the ACU investigations’ team approached him last year. He also declined the request to part with the information in his phone, which was relevant to the investigators,” the SLC source said. “But the ICC has not charged him with either match-fixing or any corrupt activities. The charge against him is only non-cooperation in probe,” he added.
The ACU probe into corruption in Sri Lanka has been ongoing for over a year. ACU general manager Alex Marshall stating earlier that a team was on the island “as part of ongoing investigations into serious allegations of corruption”. The ACU had also briefed the nation’s president, prime minister as well as the sports minister, who is in charge of oversees Sri Lanka Cricket. No names have been divulged.
After signing off from international cricket, Jayasuriya also tried his hands at politics and in 2010 became an elected member of the Sri Lankan parliament, a stint which ended in 2015. He also served as a minister.
He also had two controversial stints as the island nation’s national selection committee chairman, the latest of which ended in Sept 2017 when Jayasuriya and his whole committee resigned following heavy criticism. The charges also relate to this second sting, which followed a previous tenure from early 2013 to the 2015 World Cup which too ended after the team’s poor performances.
Jayasuriya was player of the tournament as Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996. AGENCIES
Former Pakistan Leg-Spinner Finally Admits He Lied For 6 Years About Fixing Links With Bookies
Banned Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria Thursday said he finally confessed to spot-fixing after years of denial to get closure for his mistakes and sought forgiveness from the country’s “shocked” cricket community. “I just want the cricket board, my fans and the Pakistani people to understand my situation and forgive me. I made a grave mistake in associating with a bookmaker (Anu Bhatt) and not reporting it to the concerned authorities and I have paid the price for it,” Kaneria said.
“I am gutted at the moment because it is not easy to come out like this after basically lying for six years. I had to do it now because it was a burden on me and I just couldn’t take the stigma of being called a spot-fixer any longer and denying it,” Kaneria said.
Kaneria, who will turn 38 in December and who took 261 wickets in 61 Tests, said he wanted to rebuild his life and hoped the cricket authorities would accept his apology and show compassion. “What I did was very wrong...I hope the people forgive me,” he said.
“My accounts have been checked in this case and they can be checked again. My mistake was getting close to this guy, (alleged match-fixer) Anu Bhatt who became like a family friend to us after he came to Pakistan and we went to India in 2005/06. He virtually started blackmailing me,” he added.
Kaneria is serving a life ban since 2012 for indulging in spot-fixing in English county matches. The ban was imposed on him by the English Cricket Board. “I can give back to the game by telling all young players don’t get involved in these things and stay away from people like Anu Bhatt,” he asserted.
But Pakistan’s cricket community was left “shocked and betrayed”.
“I am gutted because in the early days when Danish’s case came up. I met with the Pakistan Cricket Board officials with his case documents to convince them that he (Kaneria) should be heard by the PCB. I believed he was innocent,” Pakistan’s former Test captain Rashid Latif said. Latif said Kaneria’s confession was a big let-down for the Pakistan cricket community. “...you can’t help feel being betrayed by him,” Latif said.
Former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir said Kaneria’s confession was a big blow to the image of Pakistan cricket. “God knows what these players think about. We get publicity for all the wrong reasons, spot-fixing and doping cases. I am really sad today to hear about Kaneria’s confession after he lied to all of us for six years,” Qadir said.
Most corrupt bookies in cricket are Indians, says ICC official
New Delhi: The ICC has been carrying out investigations on deep rooted corruption in Sri Lankan cricket but amid that, its Anti Corruption Unit official Alex Marshall revealed an alarming fact: most of the bookies indulging in corrupt practices are Indians. Earlier this week, legendary Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya became the first high profile player from the island nation to be charged for violating ICC’s anti-corruption code. Even though Jayasuriya has not been charged with fixing, he has been found guilty of non co-operation with investigating authorities.
Recently ICC’s ACU shared information about active corruptors with England and Sri Lankan cricketers. Asked if all active corruptors are local, ICC’s General Manager ACU, Marshall, told ESPN Cricinfo: “In Sri Lanka it was both local and Indian corruptors. In most other parts of the world it is mostly corrupt Indian bookies.”
Most corrupt bookies in cricket are Indians: ICC official
Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, the fourth-highest wicket-taker in Pakistan’s Test history with 261 wickets from 61 Tests, was banned for life in June 2012 by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after a disciplinary panel found him guilty of corruption in relation to a spot-fixing case while playing for Essex. The case also involved former Essex pacer Mervyn Westfield, who got a five-year ban and was imprisoned after pleading guilty to spot-fixing.
Kaneria, who is Pakistan’s leading Test wicket-taker among spinners, had earlier been arrested in 2010 by police investigating match irregularities involving Essex, but the charges did not stick and he was let off.
Both players were charged in April 2012 following Westfield’s imprisonment for accepting money to underperform in a Sept 2009 Pro40 match. At the ECB hearing, Westfield provided evidence against Kaneria, saying the Pakistan cricketer introduced him to Indian businessman Anu Bhatt.
Kaneria denied the charges but phone records showed extensive contact between Kaneria and Bhatt in the days leading up to the match.
The ECB panel identified Kaneria as a “recruiter of spot-fixers” who had identified Westfield as “susceptible”, set up multiple meetings with “Asian businessmen” including Bhatt and pressured Westfield to give away an agreed amount of runs in an over.
The ICC’s anti-corruption code states that decisions based on a domestic board’s regulations should be upheld by boards around the world, and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) too agreed to abide by the ban. Kaneria appealed in 2013 but the ban was upheld.