Melbourne: Cricket Australia has set up an anti-corruption and security unit to oversee the integrity of its domestic competitions.
Sean Carroll, who has worked in the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, will lead the new body which will preside over the Sheffield Shield, the limited-overs competition and the new Twenty20 Big Bash League.
The creation of the new layer to stamp out corruption comes in the wake of a British court sentencing three Pakistan international cricketers - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - to jail terms for their roles in spot fixing that was exposed by a tabloid newspaper during a series in England last year.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland announced the appointment Wednesday, only hours after a British newspaper quoted former ICC anti-corruption chief Paul Condon as saying every major cricket country had been touched by corruption in the 1990s.
Sutherland said Cricket Australia thoroughly investigated the issue at the time and found there was no evidence of wrongdoing among its players.
In comments published in London's Evening Standard newspaper Condon, who led the ICC's anti-corruption unit for a decade after 2001, was quoted as saying: "In the late 1990s, Test and World Cup matches were being routinely fixed.
"From the late 80s certainly through to 1999-2000 there were a number of teams involved in fixing, and certainly more than the Indian subcontinent teams were involved.
"Every international team, at some stage, had someone doing some funny stuff. A whole generation of cricketers playing in the late 1990s must've known what was going on and did nothing. The last fixes of whole matches, or even series, were probably in 2001 before we'd really got the unit going."
Carroll, a former Victoria state police officer, was initially appointed as Cricket Australia's security manager in May and has broad experience in Australian sport. The ICC retains supervision of international cricket.
Sutherland said a 1999 report on Australian players conduct by lawyer Rob O'Regan found no evidence of corruption.
"There were issues in the 1990s around corruption - as a result of that, (Cricket Australia) actually initiated a significant review into corruption or potentially corrupt activities in Australian cricket," Sutherland said. O'Regan "found no specific evidence of corrupt activities by Australian players.
"I'm not sure specifically about any inference there ... through Lord Condon's statements."
While O'Regan found no evidence of corruption, he was critical of the then Australian Cricket Board for not suspending Shane Warne and Mark Waugh after they accepted money from an Indian bookmaker in exchange for information of pitch and weather conditions in a series in Sri Lanka. The players were fined in 1995 but the episode wasn't made public for several years. Both players denied any part in match fixing when the story broke in the media, but admitted to being naive for accepting money for the information.
Cricket Australia is part of a coalition which has backed a push for nationwide legislation to impose harsher sanctions for corruption in sport, including jail terms of up to 10 years for match fixers.
"Betting-related corruption is a significant issue to sport in general and Cricket Australia is determined to institute measures that safeguard the integrity of our sport," Sutherland said. "There has been no evidence of problems in domestic cricket but we want to move proactively on the basis that vigilance and constant education is critical.
"The Unit will give our domestic cricket bodies a specialized resource to call on to protect our sport from instances of corruption and underscores our dedication to stamping out illegal activity."
Sports Minister Mark Arbib said the creation of the unit would give Australians confidence in the results of cricket matches, and was part of a wider push to combat match-fixing.
"While there has been no evidence of any problems in domestic cricket it is good to see Cricket Australia being proactive ... to protect the local game," Arbib said. "We are working to empower Australia's sports to ensure their athletes are protected and that everyone involved with sport understands the importance of combating match-fixing."