Fri, Jan 22, 2016 - Page 18 News List

FEATURE: Fresh scandals haunt cricket as tennis reels

AFP, NEW DELHI

As the tennis world reels from match-fixing claims, fresh scandals have embroiled cricket, sparking skepticism of efforts to tackle corruption that has plagued the “gentleman’s game” in recent years.

An explosive report this week claimed match-fixing in tennis was repeatedly going unpunished, while world No. 1 Novak Djokovic said he was once offered US$200,000 to fix a match in Russia.

The report came after the sports world was stunned by allegations of doping cover-ups in athletics and a string of scandals engulfing soccer’s governing body FIFA.

However, corruption claims have also returned to haunt cricket, threatening once again to sully the sport which has been battling to curb the influence of illegal bookmakers on matches.

Sri Lanka this week suspended their fast bowling coach amid a police investigation into alleged attempts to bribe players to underperform in a Test match against the West Indies in October.

In one of the biggest cases last year, New Zealand star Chris Cairns was acquitted of perjury charges in November linked to a match fixing case.

Lawrence Booth, editor of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, said that the case could deter players from coming forward to report wrongdoing.

Although the result was vindication for the all-rounder, the treatment of witnesses in the case such as New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum could make players think twice about coming forward, he said.

Players who cooperated with investigators had confidential testimony leaked and could have their characters assassinated by defense lawyers.

“I think the concern over the outcome of the Cairns trial is that it may dissuade other cricketers to come forward and testify against their former teammates, which is a crucial element of the battle against corruption,” Booth said in an e-mail. “Grassing up a colleague goes against the dressing-room grain, but without whistleblowers cricket would be even more trouble than it already is.”

In a sign that cricket fans are unwilling to stomach any more scandals, Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir, 23, was booed by the crowd in New Zealand this month when he made his international comeback after serving a five-year ban and being jailed for bowling no-balls to order in a 2010 spot-fixing scandal.

International Cricket Council chief executive officer Dave Richardson this week said that “no stone will be left unturned to make sure” that allegations of fixing in the sport are investigated.

However, Richardson also told the Hindustan Times newspaper on Monday “that is not to say that we can guarantee there will be no fixing of matches.”

Richardson was speaking on the same day that India banned off-spinner Ajit Chandila for life over a fixing scandal that erupted over the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Batsman Hiken Shah was also suspended for five years for a separate incident ahead of last year’s lucrative Twenty20 tournament.

Chandila’s ban for cricket’s breaching anti-corruption code was imposed despite that fact that he, former Test bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and another teammate from the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals franchise, were acquitted last year after a police probe into claims of deliberately underperforming in return for cash from bookies.

Corruption has also surfaced in South Africa, with Indian-born former Proteas one-day international player Gulam Bodi named this month as the person charged with contriving to fix or improperly influence a match in the country’s domestic Twenty20 competition last year.

This story has been viewed 1727 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top