THE biggest match-fixing scandal to hit cricket since Hansie Cronje’s exposure as a crook involves SA, according to evidence Lou Vincent has given to the game’s anti-corruption police.
Former New Zealand batsman Vincent has reportedly told the International Cricket Council that matches in the Champions League T20 (CLT20) played in SA in October 2012 were tainted by match-fixing.
London’s Daily Telegraph writes that Vincent says he knows of dodgy dealings in at least five countries. Besides New Zealand, Vincent has played for several English counties, the Mid West Rhinos in Zimbabwe and the Khulna Royal Bengals in Bangladesh.
At the 2012 CLT20 he turned out for the Auckland Aces, who won both of their qualifying matches but just one of their four group games. Heath Streak, who served as Auckland’s bowling coach in the competition, said yesterday. “I can’t think of anything suspicious that happened in that tournament.”
Officials involved with securing the tournament, who declined to talk on the record, said yesterday they had “heard nothing of the sort” when told of Vincent’s reported claims.
The burgeoning T20 format presents a particular challenge for anti-corruption officials because of its unpredictable nature. It is also the focus of a significant chunk of the $140-billion (R1.46- trillion) that the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) says is spent on sport betting annually in the world.
As much as 80% of that figure is invested illegally, and Asia and Europe account for 85% of the dirty money. Cricket and football are match-fixers’ sports of choice, the ICSS says. In England, players have been punished for accepting bribes to throw matches or underperform since the early 19th century.
But it was only when, in 2000, Cronje reluctantly confessed that he had taken money from cricket’s underworld that the public gained an inkling into the size and intricacies of the malaise.
“When you hear and read about these things, you start to wonder,” Streak said.
“For instance, was Zimbabwe’s victory over SA in the 1999 World Cup legitimate? Zimbabwe were always expected to lose. So if anyone was taking a bribe it was going to be the opposition.”
Zimbabwe’s 48-run win is one of only two such in their 31 completed one-day internationals with SA, and Cronje was the captain. – Telford Vice