According to revelations made this week, the Anti-Corruption Unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has been dealing with 40 ongoing live investigations into cricket corruption. With six men being sanctioned so far in 2021, ICC Anti-Corruption Unit General Manager Alex Marshall has his work cut out for him.
In his interview with BBC Sports, Marshall addressed the increasing levels of corruption in world cricket and blamed the unregulated markets in cricket-playing countries where gambling is illegal.
“In an unregulated market, there’s no access to data. It’s offline. It’s through relationships in towns and villages. It’s impossible to spot anomalies. Therefore, the starting point for investigations is usually the information and intelligence that comes into us from people within cricket and often the corruptors themselves,” said 59-year-old Marshall.
Most fixes are arranged after months of sophisticated planning where franchise owners invest large sums to buy a franchise in lower-level tournaments and then work alongside bookies, providing inside information and fixing matches.
Match-fixing came to the fore in 2010 when Pakistani cricketers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir purposely bowled no-balls in the Lord’s test on the instruction of their captain, Salman Butt. All three received severe penalties.
More recently, there have been scandals with six players from the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe, and Sri Lanka who received bans this year. The common denominator is that these cricketers play for developing countries where salaries are often low and administrations corrupt, leaving players particularly vulnerable to getting involved in match-fixing.
That said, even the salaries for the top cricketers in the world aren’t close to what famous footballers or basketballers earn. Bearing this in mind, players, coaches, and officials could be easy prey for corruptors looking to exploit the situation.
“The threat will always be there, but we can disrupt these corruptors and make sure the people within the game are resistant to these approaches,” Marshall said.