New Zealand Cricketers Caught Up in Match Fixing Allegations, Poor Domestic Governance to Blame?

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NZ cricketers feel the squeeze

New Zealand cricket admitted today that the International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) had been in the country for the past 4 months investigating allegations of match fixing.

Edit: After we wrote this post Dylan Cleaver in the NZ Herald said the three players under investigation are allrounder Chris Cairns, bowler Daryl Tuffey and batsman Lou Vincent. We believe that at least one other man may also be under investigation.

David White expresses “Shock

In a press conference this morning NZ Cricket boss David White said he knew the identities of the NZ players involved. White expressed his “shock” at the allegations about the men , even though they first arose at the start of last year when bookmaker Vicky Seth was the subject of a sting by undercover reporters from the UK’s Sunday Times.

Furthermore, NZ Cricket has been aware for months (and by association so has the government) about the ACSU’s investigation.

We’ve not seen the Times’ article, but the NZ Herald have reported on it saying

“Vicky Seth, told an undercover reporter match-fixing was rife and “will always carry on” because of the millions of dollars which changed hands after matches.

“It’s easy to do as long as people don’t talk,” he told the Sunday Times. “Obviously the big money is to be made in big matches – test matches, Twenty20s, the IPL (Indian Premier League) and BPL (Bangladeshi Premier League).”

The most startling revelation from a New Zealand perspective was that Seth claimed to have paid at least two New Zealand players to cheat.

“At the moment we’ve got connections with New Zealanders,” he said. “I did some fixing with (names a player) and (names another player) in 2010. I met them direct in Delhi.”

Another bookie interviewed said he had been offered a chance to sign up New Zealanders…” more here

The investigation is coming to a head and is doubly embarrassing for New Zealand because 1. It is keep to maintain the perception that the country is free from corruption and 2. It is to co-host the 2015 Cricket World with Australia.

Government pre-empts announcement with news of plans to legislate against match fixing

Obviously there is a case to answer here. The New Zealand government made a pre-emptive move earlier this week, no doubt acutely  aware that it has no legislation to outlaw match fixing, or mechanisms to monitor crime in sport.

Five days ago Sport Minister Murray McCully announced plans to criminalise match fixing in sport and set-up a monitoring group.

Match-fixing will be criminalised and a monitoring group involving nine governmental agencies will be established to help preserve the integrity  of elite sports in New Zealand, Sports Minister Murray McCully has announced following the completion of a nine-month report into links between organised crime and drugs in New Zealand sport.

The Sports Minister is noticeable by his absence today and seems to be content to let NZ cricket take all the googlies for the time being.

Ex Kiwi quick O’Brien says he has seen “dodgy” cricket incidents in India, England, Oz

Statements of shock by David White seem a little incongruous when former Kiwi seamer Iain O’Brien claimed to have seen “dodgy” cricket incidents and said it would be naïve to assume New Zealand players hadn’t been asked to fix matches.

“I don’t know of anyone but I’m sure there has been. There has to be. You’re naive to think they haven’t been,” he said, on being asked if he thought whether any Kiwi players have been approached by bookmakers.”

We shall watching the outcome of the ACSU’s investigation with interest. One thing is sure though,  with the world cup so close New Zealand will be very keen to minimise any fallout.

We confidently expect a few sacrificial lambs to be offered up (ex players probably) and for the sport to close ranks so New Zealand can say no current players are involved.

Until the next newspaper sting, of course.

You may like to read Transparency International‘s report Fair Play: Strengthening Integrity and Transparency in Cricket. With this action plan Transparency International focuses on the most obvious and dangerous corruption risks posed by poor governance. It provides a road map of the essential actions that the International Cricket Council (ICC) can take to bring needed changes to cricket, step by step. source

The following chapter on domestic governance is taken from this report:

Domestic governance and transparency: national cricket bodies and federations
Cricket requires a strategy to introduce good governance standards among its national boards in order to ensure that all aspects of corruption surrounding the game are reduced or eliminated. The ICC can play an important role in creating a good-practice governance template for its members.

The governance and transparency of ICC member countries’ own national and other cricket governing bodies is of varying quality. Accountability is generally poor. This creates an environment in which corruption is able to take place, and in some places thrive, and in which there is little example or leadership to help players to resist approaches for match-fixing. It is notable that some domestic bodies have a close relationship with their host governments, such that decisions can be taken in the interests of politics and not of cricket. There are cases of cronyism, patronage and conflict of interest. The ICC could make membership contingent on national cricket boards meeting a set of universal standards. The ICC should publish what constitutes best practice for a national cricket board and each national board should aspire to follow this and state whether it intends to meet this aspiration and within what timeframe.

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