LONDON: The International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit has been investigating Pakistan’s performance in their Sydney Test defeat against Australia in January, it was confirmed on Thursday.
Australia won by 36 runs despite conceding a first-innings deficit and allegations of match-fixing have surrounded the game, with a parliamentary committee in Pakistan summoning top officials to answer questions.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt, tour coach Intikhab Alam and former captain Younis Khan were among those summoned after video footage of a PCB meeting was leaked to the media, showing players and former officials raising suspicions about fixing during the Australia tour.
Lord Condon, chairman of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) until he retires at the end of next month, told a press conference at Lord’s: “That has been an ongoing investigation since the time.
“It is a match and series that worried us, we spent a lot of time talking to the players and PCB. The challenge is finding where is the solid fact.
“What you have there is a lot of strife within the team and Pakistan politics with rivals camps making allegations.
“We are satisfied that was a totally dysfunctional tour from a Pakistan point of view.
“The dysfunctionality in the dressing room led to players not performing well, to maybe players potentially underperforming deliberately.”
The performance of wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal has been highlighted after he dropped three catches and missed a straightforward run out.
Condon added: “What we are trying to establish is whether that was because rival camps wanted to do down captains or potential captains. Or whether they were doing something more serious, for a financial fix.”
Condon is retiring after a decade in his role and, although he admitted the problem of match-fixing will never fully disappear, he is satisfied with the way corruption was tackled during his reign.
The challenge now is to target “spot-fixing” or “micro-fixing” where specific elements of the game can be gambled on, rather than the result.
An example is the number of wides to be bowled in an over.
“One or two mix with the wrong people and are tempted to do these spot-fixes, so the challenge for the game is to stop that small minority getting seduced by them,” Condon added.
“My prediction is you will never totally eradicate it from cricket. There will always be that temptation. But we had a cadre of modern players who know the risks and are playing for the right reasons.”
Condon added that he was satisfied there was no corruption in the third Indian Premier League, although the ACSU were not involved in the first two.
“I cannot give it (the first two IPLs) a clean bill of health because I just don’t know,” he said.
“We were worried, not because we thought there were fixes, but because there was no real infrastructure to prevent it.”
Sir Ronnie Flanagan will take over from Lord Condon at a time when concerns about “spot-fixing” are higher than ever.
Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and a colleague at English county side Essex, Mervyn Westfield, have been arrested and released on bail in connection with a police investigation into betting.
“My personal message is that if anyone is thinking about fixing, we will find them and deal with them,” Flanagan said.
“My message is to forget about it. We exist to pursue rigorously the policy of zero tolerance on corruption. We cannot be complacent and I will not be.”