‘We’ll get to bottom of fixing allegations’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Jun 2018 11:52:08


 

 

LONDON

THE International Cricket Council (ICC) says it will meet representatives of the channel that claims to have unearthed ‘spot-fixing’ and ‘pitch-fixing’ in Test matches through a sting operation, insisting that the allegations will not be brushed under the carpet.The Qatar-based Al Jazeera has claimed that pitches of matches involving India, Sri Lanka, Australia and England were doctored at the behest of match-fixers.The matches in question were India vs Sri Lanka (Galle, July 26-29, 2017), India vs Australia (Ranchi, March 16-20, 2017) and India vs England (Chennai, December 16-20, 2016).


The ICC while launching an investigation, said that the news network was refusing to share the unedited footage of the sting, a claim also reiterated by the Boards of England and Australia.But ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said they are set to meet Al Jazeera officials very soon.“I am always concerned if people are talking about fixing in cricket. I am a little perturbed by any accusation that we would attempt to sweep it under the carpet, or pretend that nothing has happened,” Richardson was quoted as saying by ‘The Independent’.“So we will investigate fully. We are meeting with them (Al-Jazeera) in the next couple of days,” he added.Richardson admitted that various Twenty20 Leagues, operating at the lower level, could be easy target for corrupt activities since stringent rules make it difficult to approach international stars.


“It would be very surprising if international cricketers were able to be got to. And therefore, because that target has been hardened, these guys are now trying to create their own leagues, at a much lower level.“So what we need to make sure is that anyone staging a T20 domestic tournament–especially televised–that they have in place minimum standards. To make sure they have an anti-corruption code in place, that all the players are educated, and that we are monitoring the franchise owners, the people involved in the tournament, doing due diligence,” said.Talking about doping in cricket, Richardson said the WADA-compliant ICC tries to keep the game clean but also stressed that cricket was not the kind of sport in which the participants would feel the need for performance-enhancing drugs. “The nature of cricket hasn’t made doping a high risk. To run between the wickets that fraction of a second faster: historically, cricketers haven’t felt the need to bolster their performance by using performance-enhancing drugs.


“Having said that, with T20 coming to the fore, we recognise that potentially it could become a bigger risk going forward. Slowly and surely, you’ll see the volume of tests that we conduct increasing,” he added.Young people do like cricket, insists CEOENGLAND’S top cricket administrator may feel young people no longer care about cricket, but the man running the sport’s global governing body is adamant youth interest is rising world-wide.And David Richardson, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, added that that next year’s World Cup in England and Wales represents a brilliant opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.Colin Graves, the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, sparked controversy with his recent comment that young people “are just not attracted to cricket”. It appeared he was trying to justify the proposed introduction of a new 100-ball format into the English game in 2020.


But many cricket lovers were aghast at Graves’s seeming lack of faith in his own sport, while others were equally dismayed by what they saw as a slap in the face for various youth cricket initiatives, including those of the ECB itself. Photographs of young fans enjoying themselves at various English county grounds and other games started appearing on Twitter in response to Graves’s statement.
Richardson, too diplomatic to join in the criticism, was nevertheless keen to defend cricket’s appeal to the next generation while speaking in London on Wednesday at an event marking a year to the start of the 2019 World Cup.
“That is very much an English viewpoint,” Richardson said, when asked about Graves’s comments.“Globally we are seeing in our sport, compared to other sports, the average age of the fan is lower than even football and certainly rugby.


“Market by market, it varies widely—in England, I think, there is a bit of a challenge making sure we re-engage with the youth and grow the game from a participation point of view—but elsewhere in the world, it is quite positive.”NO ‘APPETITE’ FOR NEW FORMAT’Meanwhile Richardson, while noting domestic limited-overs cricket had been played in a variety of formats down the years, was in no hurry to add the 100-ball game to an international schedule already groaning under the weightof Tests, one-day internationals and Twenty20s.“Our strategy is clear in that we’ve got three formats of the same game, which is challenging in itself to keep them from cannibalising each other,” he said.“But what it does do is provide us an opportunity to provide an offering to everybody, every type of cricket fan, from the traditional old Test cricket fan to a youngster who wants something to be happening every ball.


“And the 50-over version, I think, is that perfect fit between Test and T20. It provides a perfect day’s entertainment, we’ve seen that around the world - it is very popular elsewhere in the world—and the World Cup has got that prestige which I think will help cement 50-over cricket’s popularity well into the future.” “But certainly there isn’t an appetite to increase and create another format,” the former South Africa wicket-keeper explained.Asked if the ECB, which successfully staged both the Champions Trophy and the Women’s World Cup last year, needed help from the ICC in marketing the World Cup, Richardson replied: “We don’t need to hold their hand or do anything (like that). They are quite capable themselves, I’m sure.“But the bottom line is that this does present a huge opportunity—and we saw it with the Women’s World Cup—to attract a new audience to get people enthused who weren’t necessarily going to cricket matches season after season.“I think there is a huge opportunity in having an event in your own country.”