Graft rears ugly head in cricket once more

NEW DELHI • As the tennis world reels from match-fixing claims, fresh scandals have embroiled cricket, sparking scepticism of efforts to tackle corruption that has plagued the "gentleman's game" in recent years.

The sports world was already stunned by allegations of doping cover-ups in athletics and a string of scandals engulfing football's governing body Fifa.

But corruption claims have also returned to haunt cricket.

Sri Lanka this week suspended their fast bowling coach Anusha Samaranayake amid a police investigation into alleged attempts to bribe players to underperform in a Test match against the West Indies in October.

In one of the biggest cases last year, New Zealand star Chris Cairns was acquitted of perjury charges in November linked to a match-fixing case. Lawrence Booth, editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, warned that the case could deter players from coming forward to report wrongdoing.

Although the result was vindication for the all-rounder, the treatment of witnesses in the case such as New Zealand's Brendon McCullum could make players think twice about coming forward, he argued.

In a sign that cricket fans are unwilling to stomach any more scandals, Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir, 23, was booed by the crowd in New Zealand this month when he made his international comeback after serving a five-year ban and being jailed for bowling no-balls to order in a 2010 spot-fixing scandal.

International Cricket Council chief executive officer Dave Richardson said this week that "no stone will be left unturned to make sure" that allegations of fixing are investigated. But he also told India's Hindustan Times on Monday "that is not to say that we can guarantee there will be no fixing of matches".

Corruption has also surfaced in South Africa, with Indian-born former Proteas one-day international player Gulam Bodi named this month as the person charged with contriving to fix or improperly influence a match in the country's domestic Twenty20 competition last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2016, with the headline 'Graft rears ugly head in cricket once more'. Print Edition | Subscribe