Ashes: Perth Test under spot-fixing scanner; criminal charges likely
Perth: The third Ashes Test being played at the WACA since Wednesday has been targeted by the spot-fixers, claimed The Sun, a UK-based newspaper.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched an investigation into the matter and has said that criminal charges may result from allegations of corruption in Australia Cricket.
As per the report published in the newspaper, two men sought £140,000 (USD 187,000) from the daily's undercover reporters to spot-fix markets in the third Ashes Test. The bookies had claimed to fix aspect of the match such as the exact amount of runs scored in an over.
The report, however, has not singled out a particular team or a player in the scandal.
ICC General Manager Anti-corruption Alex Marshall has responded saying that there was currently no evidence that the Perth Test has been corrupted.
He further added that the ACSU would be cross-referencing the new info given by The Sun with their existing intelligence. He claimed that if anything positive is found in the newspaper's report, they would push for prosecution against those found indulged in the crime. It is to be known that match-fixing is a criminal offence in Australia.
"It is obviously very early stages and our priority on receiving everything from The Sun late last night was to consider whether the integrity of the third Ashes Test had been compromised," said Marshall. "There is no evidence, either from The Sun or via our own intelligence, to suggest the current Test match has been corrupted. At this stage of the investigation, there is no indication that any players in this Test have been in contact with the alleged fixers.
"We are now working through the rest of the information from The Sun as part of what will be a wide-ranging investigation and we will map this against our own existing intelligence and live investigations to look for any corroboration or cross over. We are taking these allegations very seriously and will follow the correct processes of a thorough investigation. We will look for clear and usable evidence that proves or disproves the allegations made. This will include looking for corroboration, speaking to key witnesses and securing all relevant evidential material.
"This will not be concluded overnight and we will be working with ACU colleagues from Member countries to investigate every single allegation in full. We will not be making any comment in relation to the identity of any individual names in the dossier whilst this investigation is ongoing."
"The allegations are wide ranging and relate to various forms cricket in several countries, including T20 tournaments. We will look closely at all the information as part of our investigation. We ask anyone with information about these allegations to get in touch with the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit via [email protected]"
The ACSU's sentiments were echoed by England and Australia officials. "Cricket Australia takes a zero-tolerance approach against anybody trying to bring the game into disrepute," said a CA spokesman.
"Cricket Australia will co-operate fully with any ICC Anti-Corruption Unit investigation.
"Australian cricket has a long-standing, proactive approach to sports integrity management and Cricket Australia has a dedicated Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) to prevent corruption within Australian domestic competitions, including the BBL.
"In addition to this, all players participating in CA sanctioned competitions, including the BBL, are required to complete an anti-corruption education session before they can compete.
"CA works closely with the ICC ACU on all international fixtures played in Australia.
"Players are able to report any suspicions they have on a confidential basis and in the past there has been a strong Australian player culture to do so."
An ECB spokesman added, "ECB work closely with the ICC and their Anti-Corruption unit to protect the integrity of the international game. We are aware of these allegations and there is no suggestion that any of the England team is involved in any way."
The most high-profile spot-fixing scandal in the game of Cricket was unearthed by the now-defunct News of the World - sister paper to The Sun - in 2010, which led to prison sentencing of Pakistan's Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for bowling deliberate no-balls in a Test at Lord's.
Marshall has promised of similar action if deemed appropriate. In the recent legislative changes at state and federal levels, match-fixing has been categorised as criminal offence in Australia and New Zealand, while in the UK it is covered under the Bribery Act.
"Nothing has been referred [to the police] as yet because we are still assessing the information," he said. "If we deem that offences have taken place in countries where match-fixing is illegal then yes we will work with the local police and report our concerns and share information to push for prosecution."
"As with any investigation we will use all options available to us should we deem it necessary and appropriate. The ability to download mobile phones is one part of the investigative toolkit for us."
"We are conducting a live investigation and will do that by focusing on the facts, intelligence and evidence at hand. We will be looking in detail at the allegations, looking for any corroboration of what has been alleged, either from the Sun's own investigation or our own intelligence, and we will be examining whether there is any evidence which we can now use and take forward. We will do this without further speculation or comment."