New Zealand Cricket has confirmed matches played by an Auckland Twenty20 team at the 2012 Champions League in South Africa are the subject of an International Cricket Council investigation into match-fixing.
Chief executive David White told a news conference in Auckland on Thursday that New Zealand had been informed by the ICC that matches involving the Auckland Aces formed part of an ongoing investigation into possible match and spot fixing in several countries.
White said no matches played in New Zealand and no current New Zealand players are being investigated.
New Zealand Cricket’s announcement followed a report in London’s Telegraph newspaper that former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent had provided the ICC’s anti-corruption unit with evidence of match fixing in as many as five countries.
“No matches involving New Zealand national teams are being investigated,” White said. “I would like to stress that we understand that this is very much an isolated incident. Match fixing is a threat to cricket around the globe and we remain 100 percent behind the ICC in their focus on fighting corruption.”
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The Telegraph reported Vincent had provided the ICC with information on matches targeted for spot fixing and the names of players involved. The newspaper report also said Vincent’s detailed evidence involved matches played in England’s county competition and in four other countries.
Vincent is reported to have provided the information — described by the Telegraph as “as treasure trove” — as part of a plea bargain and in the hope of avoiding criminal investigation for his personal involvement in or knowledge of spot fixing between 2008 and 2012.
The Telegraph said the ICC is “working with detectives employed by cricket boards around the world to piece together a complex case, which they believe will emerge as the biggest fixing scandal since the Hansie Cronje affair 14 years ago and, possibly, even more significant than that”.
The ICC routinely declines to comment on ongoing investigations. The head of its anti-corruption unit skipped a scheduled attendance at the release Thursday of the International Center for Sport Security’s latest report in Paris.
Chris Eaton, the former head of security for football’s world governing body, said the Vincent case appears “very important”. But he also cautioned that it should not be taken as an indication that the ICC has been lax on tackling fixing and corruption in the sport.
“The ICC was ahead of the game, they started very early,” said Eaton, now director of sport integrity at the Qatar-funded ICSS. “The problem has been that it’s beyond the capacity of any sport to control organised crime and organised crime’s infiltration at every level of any sport.
“It’s not the fault of the ICC, it’s the fault of the governments that have allowed organised crime to have free trammel over sport.”
In its latest report, the ICSS and Paris’ Pantheon-Sorbonne University estimated that organised crime launders $140 billion each year by laying bets on sporting events. The report said much match-fixing remains hidden and that “hundreds or even thousands” of cases are suspected in 2013 alone.
Among other measures, it recommended new taxes be levied on sports betting to finance stronger efforts against match-fixing.
Vincent played 23 tests and 103 limited-overs internationals for New Zealand and, after his international career ended in 2007, played as a Twenty20 specialist around the world.
New Zealand Cricket has previously refused substantial comment about the ICC’s investigation of Vincent and its interest in his former New Zealand teammates Chris Cairns and Daryl Tuffey. White said he had been aware for some time that Auckland Aces matches were part of the ICC investigation but had not been able to comment on it without the ICC’s authority.
He said he did not know how long the investigation of the Auckland Aces games might take.
“It’s up to the ICC but they’re working hard on it,” he said. “Corruption is something they’re determined to address so no stone has been left unturned.”
Games that will be scrutinised
* Kent vs Sussex, CB40 group A match played in 2011 – Kent won by 16 runs.
Kent won by a narrow 16-run margin in the 2011 game. Sussex had a good mix of international players in Wayne Parnell (SA), Murray Goodwin (Zim), Ed Joyce (Eng) and also Monty Panesar and Michael Yardy (both England).
* Six matches of Auckland Aces’ 2012 Champions League campaign
The Aces had Gareth Hopkins, Colin Munro, Kyle Mills, Chris Martin, Mitchell McClenaghan, Martin Guptill and Andre Adams, all current or former New Zealand internationals. Azhar Mahmood, the former Pakistani all-rounder was also part of the Aces squad. Interestingly, Mahmood played for Kent in the August 2011 match against Sussex. The Aces played six games in the tournament.
* Indian Cricket League (ICL) matches
Vincent had turned out for the Chandigarh Lions which included players like Chris Cairns (later withdrawn), Matthew Elliot, Andrew Hall, Graeme Hick and Daryl Tuffey.
* Hong Kong Super sixes
Vincent has also reportedly passed on information about match-fixing in the Hong Kong Super Sixes and has also accepted a plea-bargain in order to escape criminal prosecution.