Cricket: Corruption will always be part of the game, says ICC's anti-fraud boss

DUBAI (AFP) - The head of world cricket's anti-fraud body has admitted that corruption will never be totally driven out of the game, in an interview published on Wednesday.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption chief, however added that fans should be reassured that administrators are doing "everything humanly possible" to stop illegal practices such as match-fixing.

"I'll give you the honest answer that we will never totally, utterly and absolutely eradicate corruption from the game," Flanagan told icc-cricket.com. "But we can make the game a very difficult environment for those who would seek to bring corruption to bear."

Flanagan, who has been at the ICC since 2010, called those who tried to corrupt the game as "most evil". "These are organised criminals. These are members of organised criminal gangs across the world," he said.

Cricket's reputation has been in the spotlight in recent times, most notably with the jailing of three Pakistan internationals for spot-fixing during the 2010 Test Series in England.

All three - Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif - have now been released and are now resuming their cricket careers.

Asked if any should be picked for international duty by Pakistan again, Flanagan said that was a matter for the Pakistan Cricket Board.

"They've been punished, they've met their punishment," he said. "It's now a matter, I think, for their home board to decide whether they should ever grace an international cricket team again."

He added: "That's not just a question of ability, that's a question of their remorse, their realisation of how wrong their behaviour was."

Of the three, the young star bowler Amir, 23, is most likely to represent his country again though he was omitted from the squad recently selected to play England in the upcoming Test Series in the United Arab Emirates next month.

Cricket's integrity remains under constant threat.

Last week, Chris Eaton, the executive director of the Qatar-based International Centre for Sport Security, said that after football, cricket is the main sport worldwide for illegal gambling.

One estimate by an expert this year calculated that the sports betting market is worth US$3 trillion annually (S$4.25 trillion) , the vast majority of that illegal gambling.

Cricket is thought to account for around 12 per cent of that global figure.