Monday, November 14, 2011

Boycott calls for tough action on cheats

Just a few days after England captain Andrew Strauss referred to the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a "toothless tiger" cricket legend Geoff Boycott told a radio show that the ICC should begin running its own 'sting operations' to catch cheats.

Boycott's comments arrived in the wake of a recent court case, in which a number of high-profile cricket players and officials were found guilty of cheating, chiefly by intentionally bowling no-balls in Test matches.

The convicted include Salman Butt, former captain of the Pakistan team, and his agent, Mazhar Majeed, who is believed to have been the ring-leader behind the scam. People who look at cricket betting online will want the game to be made as clean as possible.

When asked a fan-submitted question about a possible means of preventing match-fixing, Boycott suggested that governments in South Asia should consider legalising betting on cricket, to reduce the popularity of "back-street, illegal bookmakers".

The 71-year-old also said that the ICC should try to emulate the investigative journalism of the News of the World or the undercover skills of the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6, to weed out illicit behaviour.

However, the crux of Boycott's argument was that the ICC was "wringing hands", rather than being pro-active in the fight against corruption.

Boycott is just one of a number of pundits, fans, and cricket officials calling for the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), the ICC's equivalent of the secret service, to "get tough on crooks", to quote former Aussie cricketer, Ian Chappell.

Chappell recounted a recent conversation with an ACSU official on the ESPN website, in which he claimed that the ICC's 'cricket police' didn't understand the mechanics behind a betting scam; notably, that criminals, rather than players, orchestrate match-fixing.

Many cricketers, such as England's Michael Vaughan, are hoping for a zero-tolerance approach to cheating, involving an immediate and permanent ban from cricket for those found guilty of a swindle.

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