Umpires officiating in a suspected rigged match are believed to be involved in an alleged fix amid fears organisers of a private UAE Twenty20 league under investigation will attempt to corrupt Tests and one-day internationals.
World cricket’s anti-corruption officials are deepening their probe into the Ajman All Stars T20 League after uncovering what they believe to be “strong evidence” of corruption.
Fairfax Media can reveal details of the alleged scam in the UAE, which has highlighted the lengths plotters will go to fix games.
The tournament, which was not sanctioned by the International Cricket Council or the UAE board, is considered minor but there are fears organisers will attempt to corrupt Tests and one-day internationals.
The event made headlines around the world this week after footage emerged of a string of farcical dismissals in a match between the Dubai Bulls and the “victorious” Sharjah Warriors.
The ICC’s anti-corruption unit, which has been handed team sheets from the matches, has interviewed numerous players, including two former Pakistan internationals. One, convicted spot fixer Salman Butt, has outed himself, while the other is believed to also have a significant profile.
Pakistan media has reported paceman Mohammad Asif as having taken part in the league. Asif and Butt were jailed for their roles in the 2010 Lord’s spot fixing scandal. No Australian is under investigation.
While the Ajman All Stars is a low-level league, anti-corruption officers are interested in learning more about organisers whom they believe could have access to top level cricket participants.
Investigators will travel to India to interview one organiser who is believed to be familiar to authorities.
It’s understood organisers paid for the low-key event to be beamed live into India on satellite broadcaster Neo Sports, presumably to aid underground betting. Fairfax Media is not suggesting Neo Sports acted inappropriately.
A full outside broadcast can cost an estimated $10,500 to $18,000 per day, plus expenses for commentators and eight cameramen for three days.
Umpires are believed to be in on the plot, receiving messages in ear pieces and instructing players at the start of each over what to do next.
One passage of play was said to involve a boundary, another event, then the fall of a wicket. A player who had failed to adhere to the plan was then berated by another who told him he had just cost us a lot of money.
The organisers were said to have connections to the local community, which enabled them to recruit players and umpires. As the video showed, players were of wildly different ability.
Players were given full team kits, which gave the league an appearance above its lowly rank. Not all players were involved in the alleged plot, with some said to be outraged after finding out they were participating in a corrupted match.
The umpires were based in the UAE while many of the players were local workers.
The ICC does not have the authority to take action against players engaged in corrupt activity as the event was not sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board.
“However after speaking to a number of those involved, we consider there to be strong evidence to indicate this was a corrupt event and damaging to the wider reputation of cricket and as such will continue the investigation,” the ICC’s general manager of anti-corruption Alex Marshall said.
“Our ongoing inquiries will now focus on identifying the organisers of the tournament to prevent similar incidents occurring elsewhere and to disrupt corrupt practices wherever we can.”
It is also urging boards to consider taking disciplinary action against players for taking part in unsanctioned cricket.