David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, said “criminals” were “swanning around the game” and that the governing body was in a “constant battle” to weed them out.
“We are obviously very much aware there are these types of individuals and types of criminal groups around world who are trying to get into cricket, trying to get hold of players, trying to get hold of groundsmen,” he was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo at the sidelines of a 2019 World Cup event in London on Wednesday, May 30.
“It was reminder that these guys are at work and they are not going away and we’ve got our work cut out trying to disrupt them.”
Richardson’s comments come soon after the Al Jazeera documentary that aired on Sunday, which highlighted spot-fixing in cricket and alleged that three England and two Australian players had agreed to score at a specific rate for certain periods in matches played against India in Chennai and Ranchi last year.
The England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have both said there is no “credible evidence” linking their players to the incident.
The documentary had also caught on camera Tharanga Indika, the curator at Galle International Stadium, accepting payment to doctor the pitch, and Richardson said this was a direct consequence of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit making international players almost unapproachable.
“Because we have hardened the target at the top level they are now going to focus on junior levels of cricket or other avenues such curators and groundsmen,” he said. “We know what the problem is. It is going to be a constant battle. We can’t let up. We’ll be in it for the long term.”
Richardson added that Test cricket remained at “high risk” of being targeted by corrupt elements, but said urgent focus was needed at domestic and age-group levels, with match fixers looking at alternate avenues to influence the game.
Al Jazeera sting exposing match fixing both intriguing & depressing. Though no conclusive evidence provided, reveals where all the menace can come from. ICC & Cricket Boards must follow up with seriously and urgently. Link for those who’ve not seen it: https://t.co/YquSYErddx
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) May 29, 2018
“It (Test) is as high a risk, but we’ve got the mitigating measures in place to make sure that it cannot have any impact,” he said. “And, yes, it would be very surprising if international cricketers were able to be got to.
“Because that target has been hardened, these guys are now trying to create their own leagues, at a much lower level, and the danger is they will start going to domestic tournaments and leagues that are televised.”
In the documentary, there was talk of the ACU body being compromised, but Richardson said, “at this stage there is no evidence to suggest that is the case”.
Al Jazeera has not yet shared raw footage with the ICC so far, but a meeting in the “next couple of days”, Richardson expected the television network to aid in their investigation.
“I’m sure they will work with us,” he said. “After all they have stated in the programme itself that their objective is to highlight the problem and make sure the world knows about it.
“Hopefully that level of cooperation would be there and we will be there to get all the evidence needed to fully investigate and make sure if there has been any wrongdoing that we get to the bottom of it and deal with it appropriately.”