Players, bookies using ~~sign language~~, say cops

Published: Sunday, September 29, 2002, 19:53 [IST]
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Colombo: Crooked players backed by prostitutes and sign language experts have beaten Sri Lankan police in the battle against match-fixing during the ICC Champions trophy tournament, officials said on Sunday. The anti-corruption unit (ACU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC) held a meeting with police to review the security measures at the tournament ending on Sunday, but the prognosis was not good, officials said. Police units had not bargained to battle women invited into the rooms of players in violation of the ICC's strict 'access control' regulations aimed at ensuring that they did not come into contact with bookies. "The players had got wise to the police operation and they were giving the slip to guards deployed at the team hotel," a police official said. "Tackling the problem of women friends of players was a big problem." Police guards were deployed to escort players from the dressing room up to the boundary line to ensure they did not have a chance to exchange notes with bookkeepers and fix matches. However, a top police source said they suspected some players were using 'sign language' to communicate with representatives of bookies at the stands located near the dressing rooms. "They could use their own cricket gear to pass messages to bookies," the police source said. "A batsman could show pad and that would indicate how he intends to get out - with an lbw - and for the bookies that information can be turned into cash." However, the ICC did not think sign language played a part during the latest tournament and said it was 'overall pleased' with the level of security provided by Sri Lankan authorities to enforce anti-corruption rules. "During this tournament, players have been protected in the dressing room area to a level that has never been done in any of the previous ICC tournaments," ICC spokesman Mark Harrison said. He said those entering near the dressing rooms had been carefully screened and anyone communicating with sign language may have been easily detected. However, police sources said there were several weak areas where the field was wide open for players to pass messages to outsiders. Harrison said the security and protection at the grounds extended to the team hotel, the Taj Samudra. At the hotel, too, it was a battle with players to enforce the 'access control' regulations with police guards confronting an unexpected foe - prostitutes - invited by cricketers. After a row over women in rooms, the West Indies cricket team asked for police guards to be withdrawn, a move refused by the security authorities. The ICC had sought police protection for all teams taking part not so much to protect players, but as a safeguard against match-fixing.

AFP Extras:
India, Sri Lanka title tilt to throw exciting fair

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