Cricket’s anti-corruption unit on alert for match-fixing ahead of England’s Test series with Sri Lanka with former star Sanath Jayasuriya returning from a two-year ban for failing to co-operate with officials
- Cricket’s anti-corruption unit is on alert for England’s Test series with Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka’s image has been tarred due to match-fixing issues in recent years
- Sanath Jayasuriya is returning from a two-year ban which was given in 2019
Cricket’s anti-corruption unit is on alert for match-fixing approaches ahead of England’s upcoming Test series in Sri Lanka, Sportsmail can reveal.
It follows an International Cricket Council probe into corruption at last month’s Sri Lanka Premier League in which two people are being investigated.
The country’s image has been tarred in recent years, with former star Sanath Jayasuriya banned for two years in 2019 for failing to co-operate with officials.
Cricket’s anti-corruption unit is on alert for match-fixing approaches ahead of England’s upcoming Test series in Sri Lanka
The head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit Alex Marshall told Sportsmail: ‘You could never say any cricket match is guaranteed to be clean. What you can say is these are the top-level players, the consequences for them getting involved in anything like this is career ending and masses of publicity.
‘We banned Sanath Jayasuriya, he’s just come back after a two-year ban. That’s a very big name in Sri Lanka. If you add to that in Sri Lanka you’d risk being caught by the police and sent to jail (as fixing is now a criminal offence) — it’s a massive risk for them.
‘It (corruption in this series) is very unlikely, but you can never guarantee anything. We’ve just gone past the 20-year anniversary of Hansie Cronje. He was the captain of a team in top-level cricket, perfectly well off, yet he took the wrong turn. So you can never say that it won’t happen.’
Sri Lanka’s image has been tarred in recent years, with former star Sanath Jayasuriya banned for two years in 2019 for failing to co-operate with officials
In a bid to thwart any wrongdoing, a member of Marshall’s team will give both England and Sri Lanka a more detailed briefing than they would give in other countries, showing pictures and names of criminals who could approach them.
One of the pictures likely to be shown is of Aneel Munawar. Eighteen months ago, Sportsmail pictured alleged match-fixer Munawar standing yards from former England cricketers Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan in a Sri Lanka hotel lobby during the 2012 World Twenty20.
‘When we do the education session (with teams in Sri Lanka), we don’t just say the code says you can’t do this and this,’ he said. ‘We now tell them how the corrupters in Sri Lanka have operated in the last few months, what attempts they have made, and we show them the pictures and names of all the active corruptors we think might try to approach them.
Head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit Alex Marshall said they will give both teams a more detailed briefing than they would give in other countries
‘We started it 18 months ago and did it for all the international teams for the first time at last year’s World Cup.’
Marshall notes, however, that Sri Lankan cricket is in a better place than it was three years ago.
‘A couple of years ago, lots of our cases came from Sri Lanka. There are still cases which are going through the tribunal system. But how it is different now is they have introduced different legalisations which makes any sports corruption a crime — previously it wasn’t, so there’s a risk of going to jail.’
The unit’s biggest fight against corruption continues to be the proliferation of T20 franchises across the world, in which lower-paid players are targeted by criminals in foreign environments where stars are ‘thrown together’.
A total of 40-50 cases of possible wrongdoing are currently being investigated and 10 people were charged for corruption between July 2019 and July 2020.
England will play two Test matches against Sri Lanka after the original series was postponed
In some cases criminals were found to be owning teams to influence match outcomes. The unit had a report of this as recently as last week.
However, a lack of professional cricket played last year due to Covid-19 led criminals turning to alternative avenues.
Marshall revealed that during the recent lockdowns, desperate corruptors turned to attempting to exploit club cricket and in one case invented a fake tournament.
He said: ‘Instead of offering $10,000-30,000, they were offering local club players in other parts of the world $3000 to get involved in corruption.
‘And in one case they even invented a cricket tournament and pretended it was going on so they could run a corruption operation.’
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