Cricket: ICC hunt for mole in hole

By Ed Hawkins

Ed Hawkins is author of the award-winning Bookie Gambler Fixer Spy. He wrote this exclusively for the Herald on Sunday.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan. Photo / AP
Narayanaswami Srinivasan. Photo / AP

The hunt is on for the moles who have unearthed cricket's grubbiest secrets since the Hansie Cronje affair.

It would appear the ICC, riled and rocked by the revelations from testimonies by New Zealand's Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum, will stop at nothing to understand how and why the sport has suddenly been brought to its knees.

It's the only reaction the ICC have been able to stomach. One after another, the big guns have been wheeled out to denounce the leaks. David Richardson, the chief executive, was first, followed by Alan Isaac, the president, and Sir Ronald Flanagan, head of the floundering anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).

The world governing body apparently cannot fathom how or why the supposedly 'private and confidential' claims of whistleblowers have exploded onto the public domain. They have vowed to conduct a thorough investigation.

They will not need to look far. The answers as to why the leaks have occurred are staring Richardson, Isaac and Flanaghan in the face when they look in the mirror.

They can read the newspapers quoting their reaction.

All the ICC appeared to be interested in, following Vincent's revelations that he tried to fix 12 games and that McCullum had been approached by the infamous Player X, was fighting those who expose the truth.

Instead of making a vow to rid the game of the scourge and hunt down those who pilfer from the pockets of the paying spectators, they set the crosshairs on journalists. Unbelievably, their legal team was almost immediately engaged in attempting to gag people like me.

They set about attempting to get an injunction on the newspaper, the Daily Mail, which printed the shocking statements from Vincent and McCullum. The Daily Telegraph, which had also carried stories, was targeted.

The gravity of the situation seemingly failed to dawn on anyone at the ICC. In a nutshell, you have the rationale behind the leaks. No one trusts the ICC to police the game. So they had to be embarrassed.

Laughably, the ICC have claimed the leaks could hinder future investigations. This was comedy gold from an organisation whose anti-corruption unit has managed two successful investigations in 14 years. In cricketing terms, that is the strike rate of a one-armed myopic pensioner.

And they were hardly groundbreaking 'convictions'. Maurice Odumbe, the former Kenya captain, and Marlon Samuels, the West Indies batsman, were soft targets. There were bigger fish to be caught instead of shooting a couple of bottom feeders in a barrel.

Another argument against further exposes centred on the fiction that newspapers and journalists had breached the anti-corruption code - a charter which was designed exclusively for players, coaches and administrators.

Those who desperately want to clean the game and have access to sensitive material, recognise these failings and may feel they had no choice to act.

Timing was also significant. The anti-corruption unit is due to undergo a restructuring process which could threaten its independence.

A very real threat exists that, following the financial carve-up of the ICC by the three most powerful boards (India, Australia and England) the ACSU could be answerable to Narayanaswami Srinivasan, head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

For some, even within the ACSU, that is an unedifying prospect. It certainly should be for every cricket fan in the world.

Srinivasan has been barred from running his cricket board by the Supreme Court of India. Not the sort of judicial body which serves up orders found in a party cracker.

Srini, as he is known, has been deemed unfit for office because of his role in last year's IPL spot-fixing scandal. An investigation found his son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, had been passing on information to bookmakers.

Crucially, Meiyappan was the team manager of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, which is owned by ... wait for it ... Srinivasan. There are also said to be names of Chennai players in an envelope in possession of the court who have been involved in match fixing.

Not surprisingly, India's highest court in the land deemed Srinivasan not fit for office. However, it would appear he is a perfectly acceptable man to have in charge of the global game. He is poised to take over as chairman of the ICC.

That Srinivasan is seemingly unstoppable, riding roughshod over the merest whiff of sleaze, is down to the power-grab he conducted with the help of Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board. None of the other stakeholders in the game have the stomach to stand up to the Big Three as there's an implied threat that if a New Zealand or Sri Lanka don't do as they're told then they will receive a smaller slice of the money pie.

When this new world order, rather grandly calling themselves ExCo, was announced, there were fears it would lack the requisite governance. It's not surprising, given Srinivasan's presence and that his own board are still without a chief executive. The question on everyone's lips was: who would be watching the watchers?

That is why the moles, sneaks and whistleblowers have turned a blind eye to protocol. They have had enough. They want action.

There may well be high-profile victims. Chris Cairns, yet to be interviewed by the ACSU, has admitted he is Player X but not in the context of allegations made by Vincent and McCullum.

Whether he is charged quickly could well depend on who is running the ICC. Srinivasan's sworn enemy is Lalit Modi, the former supremo of the IPL, who was successfully sued by Cairns for libel for claiming he was a match fixer.

Regardless of score settling, there's an awful lot at stake for Vincent and Cairns who, it must be made clear, are guilty of nothing at present.

Cricket is not so fortunate. Its name has been besmirched and the only way it can hope for redemption is to face its demons, rather than try to hide them.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Dec 2014 19:49:13 Processing Time: 542ms