Scandal could be ‘far worse’ than Hansie

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However, CSA refused to comment further until the inquiry was complete.

The player reportedly acted as an “intermediary” and has been charged by CSA’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit for trying to improperly influence certain aspects of the tournament which ran from November to December.

The Titans beat the Dolphins by seven wickets in the final.

It is believed the individual, who’s identity is being kept secret, could face criminal charges for his involvement in the match-fixing scandal, in which a number of domestic players have also been implicated.

Match-fixing refers to where the result of a match is influenced by cheating and manipulation, often to fix bets, intentionally breaking the rules of the game, or divulging sensitive team information, tactics and strategy.

Players are often approached by bookmakers and bribed to throw matches.

In spot-fixing, punters would place bets on specific infringements – such as betting on when a player would bowl a wide or a no-ball.

Match-fixing has happened in both international and domestic cricket matches where the game is played around the world.

On Wednesday, Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk described the current scandal about match-fixing in South Africa as a “sad and dark day for the game” and claimed that it could be “far worse” than the Hansie Cronje affair.

Van Wyk was responding to the claim by cricket commentator and writer Neil Manthorp that the match-fixing ringleader was a former Proteas player.

Manthorp revealed in Business Day that the case could turn out to be “the largest group conviction for spot-fixing in the world”.

“The ringleader, a former national player, is facing almost certain prison time. Others may be charged with the lesser crime of 'failure to report',” Manthorp said.

Last month, CSA announced that its anti-corruption and security unit had charged an “intermediary” under its anti-corruption code for “contriving to fix, or otherwise improperly influence aspects” the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.

CSA has provisionally suspended the unnamed individual under Article 4.7.1 of the code. The unit has also charged him with “failing or refusing, without compelling justification, to co-operate with an investigation carried out by CSA’s Designated Anti-Corruption Official”.

Although the suspect was required to respond to the charges via the unit, the national board has not revealed his identity or made any further public statement about the investigation.

Van Wyk said: “There’s even less excuse for people nowadays because players have all been educated about match- or spot-fixing and corruption generally. So when players try and line their pockets today, they know exactly what they’re doing.”

He urged CSA to move quickly to bring the guilty player or players to book.

“A dark cloud is sitting over the game, but now the cat is out of the bag and CSA can’t wish it away. We need to be told who the perpetrators are. The investigation needs to be prompt and thorough and the sentence or sentences need to be severe.”

It is understood that a number of domestic players were approached by the ringleader, starting with the (televised) Africa T20 Cup at the start of the season and continuing through the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.

“If players come forward and talk, we may discover that other games and other competitions have been tainted. I would certainly like to know whether games that I have played in, and teammates I have played with, are on the level or not,” Van Wyk said.

The Dolphins’ captain, 37, made his first-class debut for Free State in 1996/7 and remembers just how devastated he was when the province’s favourite son, Hansie Cronje, was exposed for taking money from Indian bookmakers in 2000.

“This kind of racketeering destroys the dreams of kids and it makes everyone cynical about exciting finishes, or when a team plays badly at a critical moment. The world is watching our country again, and it’s especially important that if CSA finds people are responsible that they bring them quickly to book and punish them severely. They have to make examples of people who do such damage to the game.”

In 2000, Indian police revealed they had recorded a conversation between Cronje and Sanjay Chawla, a representative of an Indian betting syndicate, detailing a match-fixing plot.

Three other South African players – Herschelle Gibbs, Nicky Boje, and Pieter Strydom – were also implicated in what was the biggest scandal to hit the game since the dawn of the professional era.

Cronje, who died in a plane crash in George in 2002, received a lifetime ban from all forms of cricket, following the King Commission of Inquiry into the scandal. An attempt to appeal his ban was dismissed.

Gibbs was allegedly offered money by Cronje to score less than 20 runs in a One Day International game against India. He was banned from international cricket for six months. He received a lesser sanction because he did not follow through on his end of the deal, going on to score 74 runs off 53 balls.

Gibbs was later questioned by Indian police in 2006 with regards to the scandal.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been trying to root out match-fixing by imposing harsher penalties.

In 2010, the ICC suspended three Pakistan players – Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt – following accusations of spot-fixing.

They trio were adjudged to have carried out on-field actions, including bowling no-balls at set times during a Test against England, and were banned from all forms of cricket.

Butt and Asif had their bans lifted last year and were welcomed back by Pakistan’s cricket board.

Amir is still serving a lifetime ban.

Cape Argus

Original source: Scandal could be ‘far worse’ than Hansie

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