Cape Town: The judge probing the Hansie Cronje corruption saga recommended random lie detector tests on Thursday for South Africa's cricketers, room searches and the monitoring of telephone calls to eliminate attempts at match-fixing.Judge Edwin King included the proposals in an interim report on his probe into corruption in cricket, established after former South African skipper Cronje was sacked in April after admitting to accepting money from gamblers.King said in the 19-page report that the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) should monitor all players' phone calls and e-mail messages because "up to now access to players has been too free and easy".He also recommended that the luggage and rooms of all touring players' be searched for bribes and that they should consent to taking random lie-detector tests. This was "a somewhat drastic proposal," he admitted.King said, "Only cellular telephones issued to players by the UCBSA should be allowed and details of calls made and received should be available so as to allow monitoring by the UCBSA."He added, "Possession of an unauthorised mobile telephone should be a punishable offence."The judge, who led hearings where Cronje confessed to taking thousands of dollars from bookmakers, declined to answer questions from the media on whether this recommendation could be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.The allegations against Cronje surfaced after Indian police allegedly tapped his mobile phone and recorded conversations with bookmakers.King also said players should be obliged to report any improper suggestions or misconduct to a permanent watchdog body. "It must be part of a player's training that (whistle-blowing) this is not disreputable ... it is the decent and honourable thing to do," King said.The intrusive measures proposed by the judge were tempered by concern for players. King lamented that they earned less than professional players in other sports and were playing "too much cricket".He suggested that tours be a maximum of three Tests to prevent burn-out and called for the use of the latest technology to prevent incorrect calls by umpires.King, a retired judge with a passion for cricket, said he wanted to restore to cricket the culture of fair play.His report suggested that cricketers be made aware from early on "what is fair and what is unfair" and that their ethics education should be ongoing to counter the temptations they may face at the top of their game.King said he hoped other countries would adopt some of the suggestions as "we all have the same objection, we want to kill this monster".He is due to start the final set of public hearings into the match-fixing scandal on January 25, and release his final report by the middle of next year. The hearings would take a few weeks, King said, but declined to say whether Cronje or any cricketers would be called to testify.The UCBSA banned the disgraced captain from all aspects of cricket for life, a decision he is challenging in court.In his reaction to King's report, Sports Minister Ngconde Balfour said South African cricket authorities were not bound to implement the recommendations.He added that the Sports ministers of Australia, New Zealand, India and England had been "very amenable" to his suggestion that they meet in South Africa to discuss cleaning up the game.He would now approach his counterparts in Pakistan and the West Indies, Balfour said.
Copyright AFP 2000