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‘Lives are at risk’, Al Jazeera may not share fixing details with ICC

On the basis of an Al Jazeera documentary, the ICC has launched a probe into allegations of spot-fixing and pitch doctoring in Test matches featuring India and Australia in Sri Lanka

cricket Updated: Jun 02, 2018 13:14 IST
Soumitra Bose
Soumitra Bose
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Al Jazeera,Dave Richardson,Cricket
ICC CEO Dave Richardson has asked Al Jazeera to release to us all the material they have .(AFP)

Doha-based Al Jazeera is reluctant to share with the International Cricket Council (ICC) all the evidence it has in its possession that suggests at least four Test matches in 2016-17 in the sub-continent were influenced by match-fixers.

The TV channel’s sting operation has shaken the cricketing world and the ICC is particularly worried because the “Cricket’s Match Fixers” programme on Al Jazeera last week hinted that officials in cricket’s headquarters in Dubai may not be clean.

The programme claimed that the stadium manager at Galle, Sri Lanka may have doctored the pitch at the behest of fixers and suggested minor Twenty20 events had also been targeted. It also alleged incidents of spot-fixing in a Chennai Test between England and India in December 2016 and the Australia-India Test in Ranchi in March 2017.

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On Friday, ICC CEO Dave Richardson said in a statement: “I ask Al Jazeera to release to us all the material they have relating to corruption in cricket. We will conduct a full, thorough and fair investigation and ensure no stone is left unturned as we examine all allegations of corruption made in the programme. To do so, we need to see all the evidence they state they possess.”

Al Jazeera is unlikely to oblige in a hurry.

ICC MEET PREMATURE

Phil Rees, Acting Director of Investigative Journalism at Al Jazeera said with regard to a potential meeting with ICC that the broadcaster had to “take into account ongoing legal considerations, including potential criminal investigations into the match-fixing allegations in Sri Lanka and India. That being the case, a meeting with ICC would be premature at this stage.”

Rees added: “It should also be borne in mind that in certain respects the broadcast puts ICC itself under the spotlight, although we are confident that this will not ultimately be a bar to cooperation in due course”.

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Justice Mukul Mudgal, whose investigation in the wake of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing and betting scandal led to the ouster of several top BCCI officials, said anti-corruption units are powerless against bookies and match-fixers.

Given the limitations ICC has in investigating fixing, Al Jazeera’s reluctance is but natural. A source in the know of things said: “How many times has it (ICC) detected match-fixing itself? ICC primarily reacts to media stories.”

It is learnt that ICC wants Al Jazeera to reveal its sources. The channel has 15 hours of footage and claims the evidence is compelling enough. But all details may not reach the ICC since the D-Company, a term used for an organised crime group controlled by underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, is at large and lives are at risk.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 23:08 IST