Karachi: Former Pakistan pacer Sarfraz Nawaz said on Wednesday a gambling and match- fixing mafia is active ahead of next month's World Cup in South Africa and a clean event was not possible. "The gambling mafia is active and World Cup cannot be held without match-fixing," Nawaz, who played 55 Tests and 45 One-day Internationals for Pakistan said.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) last month claimed cricket's quadrennial event, due to be staged in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya from February 8 until March 23, will be corruption free. The ICC was forced to form an Anti-corruption Unit (ACU) in 2000 headed by former London police chief Sir Paul Condon after late South African captain Hansie Cronje confessed to taking $ 130,000 to influence results of international matches.
Besides Cronje, Pakistan's Salim Mallik and Ata-ur-Rehman and India's Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma were banned for life after investigations carried out in their respective countries. Australia's champion leg spinner Shane Warne and now retired batsman Mark Waugh, South Africa's Hershelle Gibbs, Pakistan's Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq are leading players fined or penalised for wrongdoings. "ACU has non-technical, cigar smoking people who can't gauge what's been done wrong on and off the field, only former players can gauge how the matches are fixed," said Nawaz.
Nawaz testified before two fixing inquiries in Pakistan and alleged Pakistani and leading international players of involvement in match fixing, but could not substantiate his allegations. The former pacer, who also played for Northamptonshire county in England in the 70s, tipped South Africa to lift the Cup. "In my opinion South Africa, with the home advantage and strength of its players, will lift the Cup and its past results against Australia would mean little," he said. He criticised Pakistani selectors for picking "ageing horses" in the Cup squad.
"There are six oldies in Pakistan's team - Wasim, Waqar, Anwar, Inzamam, Rashid Latif and Saqlain Mushtaq - who should have retired last year, and two unfit players in Azhar Mahmood and Inzamam which has disturbed the team combination," he said. "Inzamam can't stay at the crease for more than 35 to 40 runs because he takes injections to soothe his knee and heel pain. "If Pakistan's team reached the Super Sixes stage it would be its best result," Nawaz said.