Five international cricketers — two from Australia and three from England — were allegedly involved in spot-fixing in Test matches involving India, according to a purported sting operation conducted by Al Jazeera.
The Doha-based news channel did not identify the five players but said their names have been forwarded to the ICC, which has launched an inquiry.
Overall, three Test matches involving India were tainted by spot-fixing, claimed the channel which broadcast the results of the purported sting in the form of a 54-minute documentary titled ‘Cricket’s Match-Fixers’.
These Tests were identified by the channel’s investigative reporter David Harrison, who conducted the purported sting, as the England Test in Chennai (December 16-20, 2016), the Australia Test in Ranchi (March 16-20, 2017) and the Sri Lanka Test in Galle (July 26-29, 2017).
No Indian international has been mentioned in the documentary. But the purported sting shows former Mumbai Ranji cricketer Robin Morris, former Pakistan international Hasan Raza, a Dubai-based Indian businessman Gaurav Rajkumar, and other men allegedly tied to wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim talking about ways to fix matches and doctor pitches.
Morris and Raza, who famously made his international debut as a batsman at the age of 14, played T20 cricket together for Mumbai Champs in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League.
Morris had denied any wrongdoing when his name was linked to fixing in a teaser released by Al Jazeera Saturday. On Sunday, the BCCI said its anti-corruption unit is “working closely” with the ICC on the channel’s claims. “The BCCI has a zero-tolerance approach to any activity or act that brings the game of cricket to disrepute or mars the integrity of the game,” it said.
The purported sting also shows the alleged involvement of Galle stadium curator Tharanga Indika in shaping pitches to allegedly favour fixers. Australia lost a Test in Galle in less than three days in August 2016 and India posted a 600-plus total in July last year — Indika was the curator on both occasions.
The documentary also features a man it identified as Aneel Munawar, who is allegedly linked to Dawood. It shows Munawar telling Harrison, who poses as a British businessman, about how signals are exchanged between players and fixers during matches. “Every time, it’s a different sign. It’s decided in the morning with players… 60 to 70 per cent matches we can set… I’m telling you, each script I give you, it will happen, happen and happen,” the man identified as Munawar is heard saying.
Asked if he has players in every national team, the man is seen nodding in the affirmative.
The documentary shows Morris explaining to Harrison how a batsman backing out at the point of the delivery could be a signal. The former first-class player also boasts he has a “set of 30 players” who would play according to his plans.
Rajkumar speaks about a plan to launch a 10-day T20 international tournament under the aegis of the Dubai Cricket Council, where all foreign players “will play a role”. As for the Galle ground staff, Rs 25 lakh would secure a doctored pitch, it is claimed.
Reacting to the documentary, Cricket Australia (CA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said there was “no credible evidence”.
“Neither the ICC or Cricket Australia is aware of any credible evidence linking Australian players to corruption in the game. Cricket Australia and the ICC take a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game. We urge Al Jazeera to provide all unedited materials and any other evidence to the ICC investigation team, so, if appropriate, a full and thorough investigation can be conducted,” the CA said in a statement.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it is cooperating fully with the ICC. ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption. ECB had been aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary for some time but have not been given the full content.”
In its statement, the ICC said: “We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.”