James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, has denied allegations that the Perth Ashes Test could be subject to instances of spot-fixing, but said the governing body will co-operate with the ICC anti-corruption unit’s investigation while also maintaining sharp focus on the integrity of the looming Big Bash League.
After being part of a teleconference briefing by the ICC’s anti-corruption general manager Alex Marshall, which also featured the ICC chief executive David Richardson and the ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, Sutherland said he was confident that the Perth Test was not affected by the threat of spot-fixing.
“What we heard … is there’s no evidence, substance or justification based on the dossier of information the ICC has received from the news outlet or based on ICC intelligence from previous investigations,” Sutherland said. “There’s no substance to these allegations or justification to suspect that this Test match or indeed the Ashes series as a whole is subject to corrupt activities.
“He also went on to say that there’s no evidence, substance or justification to suggest that any player from either side or match official from the ICC or Cricket Australia or the ECB are in any way under suspicion or have been contacted by alleged fixers. To that extent I know I speak from the ECB’s perspective and Cricket Australia’s perspective it’s important for everyone to understand that our players are educated on a regular basis about the risks of corruption in our game.
“They are fully aware and understanding of their obligations under contract and under the ICC code to make the ICC or Cricket Australia or the ECB aware of any suspicious activity or any approaches that they may have. We have absolute confidence in our players and our team officials and others involved in the game to say there is nothing to suggest based on what we’ve heard from Alex Marshall and other understandings we have or other intelligence we have, to have any suspicions about our players. We have full confidence in them.”
As for the question of whether any Australian players had been named in the material uncovered by the newspaper, Sutherland said he was following Marshall’s advice that there was no substance to them. “I think it’s a matter for Alex to talk further about,” he said. “But what I’ve heard from Alex specifically today is that he does not believe there’s any substance to these allegations.”
Questioned as to further allegations about the forthcoming BBL, which begins from December 19, and other Twenty20 tournaments, including the Indian Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League, Sutherland said he was not aware of any attempts to fix matches. Reports in The Sun newspaper have alleged that an Australian player and also an administrator had passed on information to spot-fixers seeking to influence passages of play in numerous T20 matches.
“I think it’s worth noting that our players, as well as being educated on the risks of corruption and their obligations under contract and under the ICC code, they’ve got a really strong record of reporting any approaches or suspicious activity or information that they may have,” Sutherland said. “Those behaviours in the past are a good indicator of our confidence in our players understanding how the system works and the importance of this matter.
“I think we’re absolutely committed to a zero-tolerance approach to anti-corruption and we don’t want the game’s integrity to be under threat in any way and we’ll continue through our own anti-corruption unit to educate the players so that they understand the responsibilities and the risks and manage them accordingly.”
Marshall, who is expected to speak further about the allegations later on Thursday, will continue the investigation. “Obviously if there’s anything credible it will be a deep and forensic investigation,” Sutherland said. “He will make his own comments in time, perhaps later today. We will continue to work with him and the ICC as appropriate with this but in the meantime we look forward to a Test match and the understanding that we have full confidence in our players and everyone involved in this Test match and the Ashes series.
“I don’t think for one moment anyone should believe that we’re complacent about this issue. We understand there are risks associated with corruption to sport in general and cricket and we take those risks very seriously. There are a lot of measures that have been put in place over the last few years to ensure the game is protected as best as it possibly can.
“But I repeat, there’s no substance based on intelligence that the ICC has – and we’ve got a very significant anti-corruption unit based in Dubai so we’ve got representatives all over the world – based on information in the dossier that Alex has received, to suggest that we should have significant concerns. That’s not to say we’re complacent about the risks of corruption in our sport.”
The Australian Cricketers’ Association, meanwhile, stated that it would work with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit on allegations of spot-fixing. “The players, like Cricket Australia, have zero tolerance for behaviour that may impact upon the integrity of the game,” an ACA spokesman said. “The game of cricket stands on its integrity, which is why it is important that the ICC’s multi-jurisdictional investigation should now take its course. The ACA is looking forward to receiving a briefing regarding the ICC’s investigation.”