Proof of the pudding
Sir Paul Condon's eagerly anticipated report on cricket corruption can be
interpreted in different ways, depending on what you wanted to see from it.
It can be interpreted as disturbing and revelatory, in that it contains
references to kidnapping, murder and a series of recommendations, or it can
be viewed as another verbose disappointment because it fails to name anyone
or reveal any important new information.
Whichever way you choose to view it, the fundamental problem in uncovering
corruption remains: Proof. Throughout the history of match-fixing
investigations, proof has remained the chief stumbling block. Unless Mukesh
Gupta comes forward again, or a player is so blatantly exposed that he has
no choice but to confess, denials will continue to be issued and there will
be precious little frustrated authorities and followers can do about it.
It must be remembered the evidence of corruption that shocked the cricket
world into action was discovered by accident by the Delhi police. Unless
more telephone transcripts or similar hard evidence is unearthed, it's
unlikely we’ll positively identify any of the current or recent corrupt.
There is always the tantalising possibility of it, hinted at in Condon’s
report, but compared to the publicity and the number who have likely been
involved, those proven guilty are relatively few.
The most heartening aspect to emerge from the report is its overall feeling
of being a public update, rather than a final statement. It is very much an
interim report, which is only healthy as there is obviously much still to be
done. It reads like a neat summary and some important points are made.
Among those, it was made clear greed and opportunity do not have cultural
bounds, making redundant the possible claim of rich countries that the
sub-continent is mainly involved because players from India, Pakistan and
Sri Lanka are paid less. As the report says: "Variations in pay and
conditions may have played a part in tempting players and others into
corruption. But relatively well paid players have been drawn into corruption
and relatively poor ones have resisted. Greed and opportunity are the main
factors which are common in all the cases of corruption."
Also of relevance in terms of blame being laid on the sub-continent: "In
many ways the Indian betting industry has been the engine room which has
powered and driven cricket corruption. The work of my unit has shown that it
would be wrong to leave the analysis at this statement for we are or will be
carrying out investigations which embrace most of the full member countries
of the International Cricket Council. The blame for the spread of cricket
corruption is a shared responsibility and must not be unfairly laid upon the
One point that was not examined in anywhere near enough depth as it should
have been is the involvement of administrators in match-fixing. The
perception is that players are solely responsible and consequently they have
shouldered all the blame. But if match-fixing is as organised as it is
supposed to be, then it's hard to believe the bookmakers have dealt
exclusively with players, umpires and groundsmen -- the lowest, operational
level of the game -- and no-one else. If they are approaching senior players
and requesting them to influence others in their team with large sums of
money, is it not logical that they would approach influential officials and
ask them to do the same?
In some cases a selected team has to be approved by members of the cricket
board. What if a bookie paid a vast sum to a powerful official to ensure a
loss in a particular match? That official, with power over the selectors,
could then instruct senior members of the team to lose under threat of never
being picked again, while escaping blame himself if the players are caught.
Some players have alleged conspiracies against them by the cricket boards of
the time. It's easy to imagine administrative involvement in corruption at
Unfortunately, Condon barely touches upon the issue in his report. "Whilst corruption at the playing level is now well documented, equally serious
allegations are emerging about individuals involved past and present in the
administration of cricket. It is too early to form judgments about these
allegations and the picture is confused by internecine struggles within
individual countries for control of cricket. Also personal rivalries have
undoubtedly led to smear campaigns. Nevertheless, the sums of money now
coming into cricket centrally through the International Cricket Council and
those generated by individual boards are large by any standards. The current
corporate governance arrangements within cricket are inadequate for the
task. Investigations will continue into alleged corruption in television
rights contracts and related issues."
That is basically all he has to say on the matter.
Not enough serious questions are being asked of administrators. Aside from
the issue of corruption in television rights, direct involvement by
officials in match-fixing must be examined. Condon claims that some players
were afraid to comment for fear of jeopardising their careers, and this is
probably why. Indeed, one of the answers to why corruption has developed in
cricket was: "Some administrators either turn a blind eye or are themselves
involved in malpractice."
Players under-performing are just the public manifestation of corruption.
Corrupt administrators involved with the underworld instructing players on
how they are to underperform under threat of non-selection is a direction
that needs to be pursued.
It has been stated that many people close to fixed matches were ignorant of
what was occurring, which is partly understandable. The New Zealanders
refuse to believe their most recent one-day series with Pakistan was fixed
simply because they weren't aware of it. In reality, they wouldn't know. But
not everyone can be ignorant and corruption cannot have been initiated at
the playing level alone. Somewhere along the line, there must have been a
higher knowledge or influence over match-fixing. As usual, those caught in
the act may eventually be punished while some who are truly responsible
The Paul Condon Report
Highlights of ICC corruption report
Quo vadis? - The Prem Panicker Column
An incomplete journey -Sujata Prakash
Mail Daniel Laidlaw