~~ICC probes umpires~~ link in match-fixing~~

Published: Sunday, April 1, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston:Even as ICC is independently probing the match-fixing angle in the Bob Woolmer murder case, it has come to light that three of its Elite Panel umpires are also under the scanner of Anti-Corruption Unit of the game's governing body and the late Pakistan coach knows this inquiry.

''The recent death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has triggered suggestions of match-fixing. In fact, the ICC has sent Jeff Rees from their Anti-Corruption Unit to do investigations of their own.

Not only have players been implicated in match-fixing scandals but a well-placed source says at least three umpires on the ICC elite panels are being investigated by Lord Condon's ICC Anti- Corruption Unit,'' Sunday Gleaner reported.

''The intelligence source says these investigations were done because it was found that some umpires have offshore banking accounts thought to be set up by match-fixers,'' it said.

The newspaper added that the ICC said as a matter of policy they do not comment on whether an investigation is being or has been done.

''According to the intelligence expert, in matches where umpires are crooked, at least one captain is aware of the match fixing scheme, so he normally brings his best bowler from the end where the umpire believed to be crooked is standing.

''The intelligence agent suggests that a series of matches within the last three years have prompted the Lord Condon's team to investigate, and Woolmer was aware of these investigations,'' the report claimed.

Against this backdrop, the informed intelligence source suggests Woolmer's death came become of two reasons: firstly, because Pakistan dropped out of the World Cup causing persons to lose plenty of money; and secondly, because there was a feeling that he was going to talk what he knew about match-fixing,'' it went on to say.

''In cricket, the dark side to gambling was often not as straight forward as the flip of a coin. Bookmakers often seek to influence the game by speaking to and paying players and even officials. Tens of millions of dollars change hands on match days in organised betting activities controlled by persons labelled as mafia.

''In South Asia, for example, ball-by-ball odds are available on the game. With this pundits are able to place bets on things like who will win the toss, who will face the first ball, who will bat at which number, individual scores, overall scores and even extras,'' the intelligence source said.

''It is done through a big betting chain run out of Karachi in Pakistan,'' the expert said.

''Betting on rigged Test matches and rigged one-day international matches is a big source of funds.'' The report continued that while the tendency to bribe people to fix an entire game has disappeared because of close monitoring by the ICC, 'bookies' are now involved in what is now called micro-fixing. People bet on even the most remote things such as who will bowl the 15th over.

ICC Media and Communications manager Brian Murgatroyd told the paper that ''one of the things the ICC is trying to tackle is the potential for micro-fixing''.


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