• December 10, 2023

Corruption in cricket: ICC’s Alex Marshall on Mr X, Bitcoin and fleeing suspects

The International Cricket Council established the Anti-Corruption and Security Department in 2000

From the fight against corruption to the fight against corruption.

Part of Alex Marshall’s 37-year career in the police force has been investigating corruption in the force. If you immediately think of AC-12 and “catch bent copper catchers,” then it’s quick to indicate that he carefully avoided the BBC television program Line of Duty.

Now it is his job to fight corruption in world cricket. He’s also a busy man – the anti-corruption division of the International Cricket Council (ICC) he heads has around 40 live investigations and six men have been sanctioned this year alone.

You can take a look at some of the ICC’s decisions. that are publishedexternal link albeit often edited.

They reveal details of Bitcoin changing hands, suspects fleeing the country, and the liberal use of terms like “Mr X”.

“There are some in the major cricket-playing countries where gambling is illegal, but that doesn’t stop it from being incredibly popular,” said Marshall, a former Hampshire police chief.

“So you have huge, unregulated markets.

“In the regulated markets, you can run an algorithm on the betting patterns around a particular event and identify anomalies.

“In an unregulated market, there is no access to data. It is offline. It is through relationships in cities and villages. It is impossible to detect anomalies.

“So the starting point for an investigation is usually the information and intelligence that comes into us from cricket people and often from the corrupters themselves.”

Alex Marshall, general manager of ICC's anti-corruption departmentAlex Marshall was appointed by the ICC in 2017

The ICC rulings also detail how a fix is ​​arranged. In some cases, it can be surprisingly mundane. For example, the couple from the United Arab Emirates, Mohammad Naveed and Shaiman Anwar, discussed their plans over coffee on the beach.

However, the likelihood that a startup corruptor will succeed is slim. Reaching out to a cricketer in a hotel lobby and asking if they’d like to make a few pounds is not the preferred method for most fixers. It’s a lot more sophisticated than that.

“Usually many months are planned,” explains the 59-year-old Marshall.

“We have had cases of franchisees at lower level tournaments who deliberately drafted into this event and paid significant sums in order to corrupt their own team over the long term or to provide bookmakers with inside information.

“With a draft coming up it’s not uncommon for us to reach out to players who say, ‘When you’re ready to do this for the owners, you will be chosen. “

“A franchise owner could work for bookmakers who have access to some pretty significant resources. Once people start handing over more than a million dollars to buy a franchise team, you are approaching serious territory.

“What do you expect in return when you are ready to invest that kind of money?”

Perhaps the best-known example of cricket corruption in Britain was the conspiracy of Pakistan’s Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir intentionally rolling no-balls in the Lord’s Test 2010 against England.

Archives: The news of the secret record of the world from Agent Mazhar Majeed about the fixing. He was later jailed for his part in the Lord’s 2010 conspiracy.

However, this episode gave the wrong impression that corrections are often isolated, small events. While Asif and Amir are intentionally bowling no-balls, an intentional no-ball is often the signal that the fix is ​​in place and affects the subsequent action.

“A fix is ​​usually about game sessions,” says Marshall. “Corruptors could approach the opening of batsmen or bowlers and / or the captain to try to influence a game session.

“Not very often it’s the whole game. Occasionally it was, although it’s pretty rare. I can’t think of an occasion where the corrupt act was one ball.”

Naveed and Anwar, the couple from the beach, were banned this year along with Qadeer Ahmed, a UAE teammate. So also the Sri Lankans Dilhara Lokuhettige and Nuwan Zoysa and former Zimbabwe’s Captain Heath Streak – The latter a high profile case given his position in the game.

What the six men have in common is the lack of wealth in their own country compared to the rest of the cricket world – a flaw that a potential corruptor will exploit.

This search for vulnerabilities can lead to other parts of the game as well.

“Women were approached,” says Marshall.

“So far the betting market for the women’s game is relatively low. The reward for the corruptor is not great unless it is a very high profile game.

“Cricket is more popular under the age of 19. There are betting markets and streams, so we approached younger players or asked for information.”

If a player, coach or official falls victim to temptation, vulnerability or circumstance, he or she is at risk of being kicked out of the game.

The ICC’s jurisdiction over outside corruptors is limited, although that doesn’t mean Marshall and his team are powerless.

“We will report them to law enforcement if what they are doing could be a crime. We will speak to border authorities to prevent them from entering and leaving countries,” he says.

“When someone is employed, we will talk to their employers about what they are doing. If we can advertise, we will make their name public.

“We hope to be able to publish the names of people who are banned from cricket because they are corruptors. There is a legal process that must be followed.”

There is a danger that cricket lovers will get cynical if they think that something too incredible to be true is just that.

Despite what he knows about the darker side of the game, Marshall hasn’t lost his trust.

“I’m a fan who has my eyes open,” he says. “I trust cricket, which I watch in practically all cases. I also know that there are corruptors who watch the same cricket and wonder where there is a vulnerability and who to turn to.

“The threat will always be there, but we can disrupt these corruptors and make sure the people in the game are resistant to these approaches.

“You should believe in it. I do.”

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