Match-fixing row: Six umpires allegedly caught in TV sting, ICC launches probe
A television channel has allegedly caught six umpires from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh on camera, willing to fix matches for money during matches in the three months before September's World T20 tournament.
An Indian news channel has purportedly caught on camera six ICC umpires from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh agreeing to help certain players, fix decisions as well provide pitch and team information predominantly in the Sri Lanka Premier League. None of these umpires are part of the ICC's international or elite panel and there was no money exchange on camera.
The six umpires that TV channel India TV alleges have been exposed in the sting - they have named it "Operation World Cup" - are Nadeem Ghauri and Anees Siddiqui of Pakistan, Nadir Shah of Bangladesh, and Gamini Dissanayake, Maurice Winston and Sagara Gallage of Sri Lanka. The news channel has said in release that a seventh umpire Sharfudoullah Shahid Saikat of Bangladesh refused to take money to fix decisions.
India TV had earlier this year done a sting operation to allegedly expose corruption in India's domestic cricket circuit. This time the channel said it had conducted six stings.
In one, the TV channel alleges senior Pakistan umpire Nadeem Ghauri, who has previously been on the ICC international panel, purportedly told its undercover reporters, posing as punters, that he could "help Team India in all manners", a channel release said. "As quid pro quo, he agreed to take all amounts underhand in black", the release alleged.
On camera, Ghauri is purportedly seen discussing with the reporters the circumstances under which he could give fixed decisions like a leg-before-wicket and the modalities of how it could be done. The channel alleges that it contacted the senior umpire in July this year, "won his confidence," and then conversed with him on camera. Nadeem Ghauri has umpired in 43 ODIs, 5 Tests and four T20 matches.
Ghauri's countryman - Anees Siddiqui - is purportedly seen on camera promising that he can "manage" the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to accept a decision favourable to India, for money.
In another segment, Bangladesh umpire Nadir Shah is seen telling India TV's undercover reporter that he is ready to fix any match - international, county or league. The sting purportedly shows Nadir Shah offering to give decisions like "out" and "not out" in any format of the game. Shah has officiated in more than 40 one-day internationals and three T20s.
Ghauri and Shah have rubbished the allegations while Bangladesh Cricket Board President Mustafa Kamal said it will investigate the matter after getting the details.
Bangladesh Cricket Board President Mustafa Kamal said it will investigate the matter after getting the details.
"I also came to know about it from the media. So, I am not in a position to make any comment. But if it (the allegations) are true. We will definitely investigate into it. But we have to wait until and unless we have the full details," Kamal said.
Shah on his part said "I never fixed any match." "Absolutely rubbish. If I am going to fix match, I will be caught some day by the ICC. They had posed as sponsors and had approached me. But I did not agree to them. No umpire fixes matches," he said.
Sri Lankan umpires Sagara Gallage, Maurice Winston Dela Zilwa and Gamini Dissanayake have been allegedly caught on tape agreeing to alter their decisions for money.
The news channel said Gallage agreed to make decisions as requested during the Sri Lankan Premier League and even "manage referees" to favour India during another tournament. He also allegedly asked for Rs. 15,000 for divulging details and eventually told the reporters that "the pitch for the final match of the SLPL would favour batsmen and that it would be dry with no grass."
Winston too allegedly shared a pitch report, team reports and playing XIs for the warm-up match Australia-England T20 match in exchange for Rs. 50,000.
Dissanayake is alleged said to have "promised to revolt" against Sri Lankan cricket if compensated monetarily. He also purportedly claimed that by providing liquor to Sri Lankan Cricket (SLC) officials, one can get any work done.
ICC in a statement has asked the TV channel to provide information so that it can help in an investigation into the matter. Confirming that none of the umpires named in the sting operation were involved in any of the official matches of World T20, it said that it remains fully committed in its work against corruption 'whether alleged against players or officials.'
(With agency inputs)