Al Jazeera conducted a sting operation and aired a documentary titled Cricket's match-fixers on May 27 showing Tharanga Indika, the Galle International Cricket Stadium’s assistant manager and curator, claiming to be able to prepare a pitch to suit the desired outcome, as per the instructions of Robin Morris, the former Mumbai and Odisha batsman.
The sting operation also claimed that the pitch used for the 2016 Test in Galle was doctored, where Australia were bowled out for 106 and 183, eventually losing the match by 229 runs. 18 Australian wickets fell to spinners as the visitors failed to bat more than 85 overs across both innings.
"In that five-day match, we prepared the wicket poorly without using a roller. In that way, we made a spinning wicket,” Indika was seen telling in the documentary.
The documentary also showed an Indian bookmaker alleging that three English and Australian players were involved in spot-fixing during their Test tours of India in 2016-17.
The ICC said the alleged fixer, known as Aneel Munawar, remains unidentified and called on the public or anyone in the cricket fraternity for information on the 'mystery'.
“We have identified every other person in the original documentary and have spoken to a number of them in connection with match fixing, including those who are not deemed to be participants under our Anti-Corruption Code," Alex Marshall, General Manager of ICC ACU, said. “However the true identity of Aneel Munawar remains a mystery. He plays a significant role in the programme, yet enquiries with law enforcement and immigration sources have not identified or located him.
“As such we are appealing to the public or anyone from within the cricket family to contact us with any information that will lead us to identify and locate him. Police investigations often use such an appeal to locate people of interest and we are exercising the same approach."
Ever since the documentary was aired, the ICC have claimed that Al Jazeera had refused to co-operate in the investigation and share the unedited footage. The Doha based network, however, hit back saying the world cricket governing body failed to understand investigative journalism. Al Jazeera have now planned to air the second part of the documentary.
Marshall once again emphasised that the Al Jazeera was not co-operative but claimed the ICC had made significant progress in the investigation.
“The absence of any cooperation from the broadcaster has slowed the investigation, but to date we have made good progress in identifying people of significant interest including people already of interest to the ACU," he said. "We have been able to discount a number of claims made in the programme and continue to pursue other aspects. We will provide a full update at the conclusion of the investigation.
“We are aware that there is a second documentary in the offing, this time based on historical recordings between a fixer, suspected to be Munawar and bookies in India. As with the first programme, we will investigate any claims made in a full and thorough manner and we take any allegations of corruption, historical or contemporary, extremely seriously. Based on what we already know, we have engaged the services of an independent betting analysis company to examine the claims made about particular matches.
“As with the first programme we have, and will continue to ask for the cooperation of the broadcaster. Access to the raw, unedited footage enables us to build a complete picture around the claims in the documentary and ensure our investigation is as fair and thorough as possible.”
Meanwhile, Cricket Australia released a statement giving a clean chit to their players off any corruption allegations.
"Cricket Australia’s Integrity Unit have conducted a review of the latest claims by Al Jazeera, from a known criminal source, and, from the limited information provided by Al Jazeera, our team have not identified any issues of corruption relating to current or former Australian players," James Sutherland, the CA chief, said.
"We have handed all material over to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit to enable them to fully investigate and we will continue to cooperate with the ICC. It is important to reiterate that Cricket Australia and the ICC take a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game."
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First Published: August 28, 2018, 12:58 PM IST