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BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"The report makes it abundantly clear that corruption in cricket is a global problem"
 real 14k

Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 05:32 GMT 06:32 UK
Agnew: Report is shattering reading
Sharjah cricket ground
Sharjah - pinpointed as centre of international problem
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew investigates the implications of Sir Paul Condon's report into cricket corruption.

This report makes shattering reading for anyone who loves cricket.

It has become widely accepted that match-fixing has blighted the international game for the last ten years.

But Sir Paul Condon suggests that matches were being rigged long before that in the comfortable, traditional world of county cricket.

This endorses the long-running accusations of former Essex seamer Don Topley.


Topley - something of a maverick - was never taken seriously. Perhaps people will listen now

He maintained that, in 1992, the result of a three-day championship match between Essex and Lancashire was traded for a victory in the Sunday League game between the same counties.

Topley - something of a maverick - was never taken seriously. Perhaps people will listen now.

Certainly, I would not rule out the possibility of that kind of arrangement having taken place.

But this was match-fixing of a different kind to the one that now clearly involves the underworld and is a massive worldwide problem.


It was undoubtedly in the early 1990s that gambling on international cricket - and one-day matches in particular - took hold

Sharjah has been pinpointed as being the centre of this activity and, again, this is entirely plausible.

I would swear under oath that two of the dozen or so matches I have witnessed on that desert ground over the years were fixed: both of them by Pakistan.

Condon criticises his own organisation, the ICC, for ignoring the problem for too long and this is especially true of the ICC's lack of interest in the tournaments in Sharjah.

These were not taken seriously at first and lacked any ICC involvement or jurisdiction.

Australian Board criticised

It was undoubtedly during that time, in the early 1990s, that gambling on international cricket - and one-day matches in particular - took hold.

The Australian Board, quite rightly, is criticised for attempting to cover up the payments made by a bookie to Shane Warne and Mark Waugh in 1994.

Worse still, the ICC officials at the time - the Australian chief executive, David Richards, and the chairman, Clyde Walcott - went along with it. That is nothing short of disgraceful.


It is a sorry tale and all the worse for Condon's fears that the corruption has yet to be cleaned up

What is also extraordinary is that Alec Stewart, who will lead England in the second test against Pakistan next week, is still to be interviewed properly after being named by MK Gupta, the bookie known to have paid thousands of dollars to Hansie Cronje.

Whatever Gupta's motives or qualities, much of what he has told investigators has turned out to be true.

And it seems amazing that six months have passed since Stewart's name was linked to the allegations of receiving cash for information, which he refutes, and nothing has been done.

It is a sorry tale, indeed, and all the worse for Condon's fears that the corruption has yet to be cleaned up.

He believes that the most blatant form of match-fixing - of the type I witnessed in Sharjah - has been curbed but that "some players are still acting dishonestly and to the order of bookies".

We must now wait until June 18th for the ICC to give its official reaction to Lord Condon's report.

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