Match-fix claims: 'Put up or shut up'

By David Leggat, Dylan Cleaver, Nicholas Jones, Paul Harper

The market rate is $84,000 for a slow scoring batsman, $95,000 for bowlers conceding runs, and $1.4m for a fixed match result. Photo / Getty Images, Herald Graphic
The market rate is $84,000 for a slow scoring batsman, $95,000 for bowlers conceding runs, and $1.4m for a fixed match result. Photo / Getty Images, Herald Graphic

New Zealand Cricket says claims some New Zealand cricketers have been involved in match-fixing simply aren't credible.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has started an inquiry after the Sunday Times in Britain revealed details of the network which claims to be able to fix the results of matches, including international fixtures.

Undercover reporters posing as bookmakers were told by some of India's most influential bookmakers that match-fixing was rife.

Players for all the main cricketing nations took part, the bookmakers claimed, and New Zealanders were currently being offered to bookmakers to help fix matches.

One bookmaker claimed to have fixed matches with two New Zealand players - who he named - in 2010. The newspaper did not publish the names.

Former New Zealand cricketer Iain O'Brien reacted angrily to the news on Twitter overnight.

"If I find out ANYONE I've EVER played with is involved, it'll ruin everything I've stood for in cricket. They'll have ruined cricket!

"I gave this game everything I could. For some p***k to 'not' have kills me."

O'Brien, who retired from international cricket in 2009, reiterated those sentiments to nzherald.co.nz.

"I don't necessarily think anyone has done it while playing for New Zealand, but if they've done it outside of that ... if these are guys I've played cricket with it would wreck things."

The medium-pace bowler said the game has been tarred since the Pakistan Lord's test spot-fixing scandal.

"We know it happens, us cricketers know it happens. We've all seen things that don't look right. Whether it be internationally or domestic tournaments, by domestic tournaments meaning ICL, IPL, even county cricket in the UK.

While O'Brien said he has seen "weird cricket being played at times by people", he has never witnessed an incident he was certain was match fixing.

"If I had suspected something that would have been something I would have voiced."

Last night New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills told the Herald the allegations were a slur on every player in New Zealand.

"There is no doubt that those who play on the subcontinent will inadvertently come into contact with people of ill repute.

"But I don't believe anyone I work with is or has ever been involved ... I would be highly surprised and bitterly disappointed if that was the case."

The allegations were very serious, he said, but no action would be taken until the alleged match-fixers were named publicly.

"They need to start putting up evidence or shut up."

NZ Cricket chief executive David White said the allegations were not credible "whatsoever".

"We are not interested in unsubstantiated rumour or speculation.

"The integrity and reputation of the game is paramount and NZC have absolute confidence that our players share these ideals.

"We have been in contact with the ICC anti-corruption unit and this is now a matter for them to follow up on."

Cricket sources told the Herald that NZC had been in contact with the ICC's anti-corruption unit and the matter was now in their hands.

The Sunday Times said match-fixers boasted of recruiting players from New Zealand, England, West Indies, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh to throw part or all of international fixtures.

Last year's World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan is apparently one game under scrutiny.

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 every match.

"It's easy to do as long as people don't talk."

"Obviously the big money is to be made in big matches - test matches, Twenty20s, the IPL [Indian Premier League] and BPL [Bangladeshi Premier League]."

In the secretly-filmed meeting, he claimed to have paid at least two New Zealand players to cheat.

"At the moment we've got connections with New Zealanders. I did some fixing with [names a player] and [names another player] back in 2010," he claimed.

"I met them direct in Delhi. [One] is still working with us. After that we got some Pakistani players."

Another bookie, Monubhai, claimed he had worked with players from most of the top cricketing nations and had recently been offered a chance to sign up New Zealanders.

"I was invited to strike a deal with some New Zealanders but I didn't go. The IPL starts on April 4, then everyone will be doing it [match-fixing]," he said.

The Sunday Times said a batsman would usually be offered £44,000 ($84,000) for slow scoring and bowlers £50,000 ($95,000) to concede runs.

Players or officials who could guarantee the result of a match could be paid as much as £750,000 ($1.4 million).

Indian law enforcement officials have described corruption in cricket as endemic, and an ICC spokesman said betting on cricket continued to grow.

"With many, many millions of dollars being bet on every match, the threat of corrupters seeking to influence the game has not gone away."

The ICC is aware of the activities of a Bollywood actress suspected of trying to subvert players after four players reported her suspicious approaches.

Another Delhi bookmaker told the Sunday Times England players were sometimes persuaded to engage in fixing through the use of "honeytraps".

"Many players are now wary of being seen with fixers or bookies, so if all the deals are done through their supposed girlfriend, then it is the perfect solution."

Last year three Pakistan cricketers were convicted of criminal charges for conspiring to bowl no-balls during a 2010 test match against England.

And last month, English county cricketer Mervyn Westfield was given a four-month prison term after admitting he received £6000 ($11,400) to concede at least 12 runs in his first over in a 2009 game.

Former Black Caps cricketer Chris Cairns is involved in a court battle over allegations of match-fixing made against him by ex-Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi.

Cairns, 41, is claiming damages over Modi's 2010 Twitter posting that claimed Cairns was axed from the Indian Cricket League for match-fixing in 2008.

- NZ Herald

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