Onus on players to come forward - Mills

By Dylan Cleaver, David Leggat

NZ Cricket boss is aware of the identity of three players understood to be at the centre of match-fixing investigation by the ICC

Heath Mills of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association. Photo / Getty Images
Heath Mills of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association. Photo / Getty Images

The head of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association has labeled this a "sad day" for the sport.

Heath Mills was speaking to the Herald in response to the revelations that three players are under ICC investigation for spot- and match-fixing.

Mills said he had been made aware of the investigation and knew the players involved, but was unable to divulge names because "these matters will likely be the subject of a judicial process".

He was conscious of the fact, however, that the longer the players' identities remained secret, the wider the net of suspicion was cast.

"We're not happy that other past players are coming under suspicion. We are working with New Zealand cricket to see what we can do about that," Mills said.

"We are also conscious of the fact NZC and the ICC [International Cricket Council] are bound by rules and regulations around confidentiality.

"In effect, the onus falls on those who are the subject of the investigation."

Earlier Ed Hawkins, who authored Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy: A Journey to the Corrupt Heart of Cricket's Underworld,tweeted "ACSU investigating New Zealand cricketers. On the illegal grapevine at least 4 names have cropped up regularly".

Mills was quick to point out that those investigated are not the tip of the iceberg.

"This is a sad day for all of us but people need to remember that 99.99 per cent of those playing and working in cricket are hard-working, dedicated and honest folk."

Mills said national sporting organisations, not just cricket, need to work harder to "ensure our people are safe when they travel to overseas environments".

Police kept in dark

Police were kept in the dark as the ICC began investigating New Zealand cricketers for match-fixing.

In August, police met with an ICC anti-corruption team as part of a security briefing ahead of the 2015 World Cup to held in New Zealand and Australia, a police spokesman said.

"Police attended a briefing from the ICC anti-corruption unit in August. The briefing was attended by many of the government agencies who will be involved in the organisation and execution of Cricket World Cup 2015," he said.

"No current anti-corruption investigations were discussed at the meeting."

Players not talking

New Zealand's leading players have been told not to comment on scandal.

Former Black Caps all rounder Andre Adams said he had received an email from the NZCPA advising him not to comment on the issue.

"I really can't talk about it right now, sorry," said Adams, who is currently in Whangarei serving as manager for the Auckland State Championship team.

Many other former players phoned by the Herald appeared to have their mobile phones switched off.

Mills denied the association had gagged players. The association had advised rather than instructed them not to comment, and had done so because of the judicial nature of the allegations.

NZ cricket boss 'shocked'

CEO of New Zealand Cricket David White reads a statement to the media at University Oval on December 5, 2013 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.
CEO of New Zealand Cricket David White reads a statement to the media at University Oval on December 5, 2013 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Photo / Getty Images.

New Zealand Cricket boss David White knows the identity of the former players under investigation by the sport's anti corruption unit.

However he cannot name the three players understood to be at the centre of the claims due to the ongoing nature of the International Cricket Council investigation.

White, speaking at a hastily-arranged press conference before the third day's play in the opening test between New Zealand and the West Indies, said NZC are ''shocked and surprised" by the allegations, which first surfaced in today's New Zealand Herald relating to match fixing activities in a number of countries.

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NZC had been aware the ICC had been investigating the activities of a ''small number" of former New Zealand cricketers for several months.

White spelled out key points from NZC's perspective.

''Firstly no current New Zealand players are being investigated; no games played in New Zealand are being investigated; and lastly no matches under NZC's jurisdiction are being investigated," he said.

The ICC's anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) has been in New Zealand for several months undertaking its investigations.

White said NZC has had meetings with the ACSU. Rather than NZC providing information to the unit ''they've been updating us more than anything".

White did not know how long the investigation would last.

Asked how it would reflect on the World Cup, to be co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia in February 2015, White said: ''Corruption has no place in our sport and we're supporting the ICC."

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The probe relates to historic games featuring international stars. It is believed none of the players under investigation is still playing professionally.

The usual ways of manipulating cricket matches are to concede runs through deliberate poor bowling or to score slowly while batting.

Normal practice in these circumstances is for a young or vulnerable player to be "groomed" by a senior player with links to bookmakers, whose clients stand to gain millions of dollars.

Players involved could face bans from cricket ranging from a few years to life, depending on the level of co-operation with the ICC.

As laws covering match- and spot-fixing vary from country to country, it is not known whether any criminal charges could follow.

The ICC's anti-corruption and security unit's Australasian head, John Rhodes, is involved in the inquiry.

The Herald approached the ICC last night to confirm the investigation, but a representative said: "The ICC does not comment on any anti-corruption or ACSU activities taking place."

When the official was asked if they could specifically deny an investigation involving New Zealand players was taking place, the "we don't comment at all" line was repeated.

The investigation findings are expected to provide sobering evidence that New Zealanders are likely to have been involved in the upper reaches of cheating.

The revelations will be a concern for New Zealand Cricket, and a potential hammer blow as the country prepares to co-host the 2015 World Cup with Australia.

Although the investigation has concentrated on cricket at a domestic or franchise level, there is little way of knowing - without the ICC revealing all its findings - how far some of the tentacles have extended into the international sphere.

Last year, in a London Sunday Times report, one of Delhi's most influential bookmakers, Vicky Seth, told an undercover reporter match-fixing was rife and "will always carry on" because of the millions of dollars which changed hands after matches.

"It's easy to do as long as people don't talk," he told the Sunday Times. "Obviously the big money is to be made in big matches - test matches, Twenty20s, the IPL (Indian Premier League) and BPL (Bangladeshi Premier League)."

The most startling revelation from a New Zealand perspective was that Seth claimed to have paid at least two New Zealand players to cheat.

"At the moment we've got connections with New Zealanders," he said. "I did some fixing with (names a player) and (names another player) in 2010. I met them direct in Delhi."

Another bookie interviewed said he had been offered a chance to sign up New Zealanders.

Oram - penalties need to be "extremely harsh''

Former Black Cap Jacob Oram says penalties for match fixing within the sport need to be "extremely harsh'' to deter cheats, and to stamp out the "cancer'' it has become.

Oram was speaking on LiveSport about the match-fixing allegations revealed today.

Oram criticised sports which give their players "a slap on the wrist'' for breaking the rules, and said: "The penalty for whatever the crime needs to be extremely harsh to act as a deterrent for future match-fixing or anything else.''

However he said he wasn't sure if banning a player for life was the answer.

"I don't know if a life ban is too harsh - I mean if you're 18 years old and you're caught up because some senior guy drags you into it, that could be very harsh.

"But something needs to be done to get rid of this in cricket because it's a bit of a cancer.''

Earlier in the LiveSport show he said he was unaware of the investigation before this morning.

"I have no idea about what's come out this morning, I really don't, it's news to me,'' he said.

"In a way it's disappointing to think that if it does come out [as] correct that New Zealand is involved, and potentially heavily involved in it. I think that's disappointing for New Zealand's reputation around the world.

"But as I said, I've no idea about the case, the players involved or anything like that.''

However, Oram said there were "a lot of times'' when he had wondered whether someone on the field was involved in match-fixing.

"I think every cricketer would tell you that they've raised an eyebrow once or twice, thinking, 'that just smells a bit fishy, that ... bowling change or that delivery at this time in the match, just didn't seem right,'' he said.

"Now I know there's human error and human error is a massive thing. If people watch my career they might think I was fixing every second game. But yea, there's been a number of times when I've thought, `something's not quite right'.''

Despite that Oram said he had never been approached by anyone involved in match-fixing to throw a game.

"There's a weird part of me that wishes I had, to be honest, I'd love to experience .. you know it's such a big part of cricket now - a bad part, don't get me wrong,'' he said.

"I mean, I wouldn't have accepted ... but like I say there's a strange part of me that just would have liked to have understood the process.

"There's so many ways you can be approached, I just would have liked to have known how they were going to befriend me, how they were going to try and get in to be my friend, what they could offer me, all this sort of stuff so I could have more of an understanding of what these guys are going through when they finally accept it.''

Timing couldn't be worse - Ian Smith

Former cricketer and sports radio host Ian Smith told his listeners this morning that such activities were "not new'' to the sport.

"I'm talking probably 35 to 40 years of it, but of course now it's a lot more rife, it's more financial, it's more publicised and there's an anti-corruption unit looking at it who have to earn their buck,'' he said on his SportLive Breakfast of Champions show this morning.

However, he said he was "surprised that it's come to New Zealand'', and said "the timing of it couldn't be worse with the Wworld Cup round the corner''.

Oram told the show he hoped the allegations are "wrong''.

"I just hope it's not - well I wish it was no-one - but I just hope it's not one of our greats, or three of our greats, and suddenly everything you thought, you know, your world would just get turned upside down,'' he said.

"If it was some of New Zealand's biggest names, it just wouldn't feel right, so I've got my fingers crossed.''

Alleged market rates
Slow-scoring batsman: $84,000
Bowlers conceding runs: $95,000
Result of match: $1.4m

Read also
Law change to stop the frauds
Evidence reveals fixing spectre casts a long shadow

Former players react on Twitter:




- NZ Herald

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