Al Jazeera has defended their documentary on corruption in cricket in the face of criticism from the ICC and denials from Cricket Australia and the ECB.
The ICC has criticised the Doha-based Al Jazeera network for not having shared the evidence they had gathered on alleged corruption, match-fixing and spot-fixing prior to broadcasting the shocking documentary. In addition, the head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit Alex Marshall was highly critical of the network for their refusal to co-operate with the ICC’s investigation. The ICC had requested that they received all ‘unedited and unseen evidence’ and, according to Marshall, the network’s failure to do so had ‘hampered’ the ICC’s investigation.
Al Jazeera’s investigative unit hit back through a spokesman who said that the ICC’s complaints displayed a serious ‘failure to understand investigative journalism; no self-respecting media entity in the world releases its evidence to any party pre-publication. As our documentary shows, Al Jazeera is fully committed to exposing betting corruption in cricket and we have made it clear that we will cooperate fully with the relevant authorities.
‘We are considering the ICC’s request for our unedited material. We will not take any steps that might compromise any civil or criminal proceedings that may follow,’ added the spokesman.
Meanwhile, under-fire Cricket Australia fired back a strong denial of any wrongdoings by their players. CA’s anti-corruption officers chatted with the two players who are alleged to be involved in the match-fixing scam but, according to Australian officials, they could find no evidence of any wrongdoing by their players.
The documentary shows Indian underworld figures boasting that they had bribed two Australian cricketers as well as three English players, along with a curator, for their involvement in spot-fixing during recent Tests played in India and Sri Lanka during the course of the past 18 months.
These allegations have been categorically denied by the Aussie and English cricket chiefs, along with their national captains, Tim Paine and Joe Root.
‘As far as I am concerned at the moment, the claims are unsubstantiated,’ said new Aussie skipper Paine. ‘Our players have nothing to worry about. I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest and I know it’s never been spoken about in any Australian dressing room I’ve been involved in.’
England captain Root, nursing the emotional wounds inflicted by the nine-wicket loss to Pakistan at Lords, described the accusations of spot-fixing as ‘ridiculous’.
‘I am aware that there is a documentary and it is outrageous that our players have been accused,’ said Root in an interview with the BBC. ‘It’s not anything for the guys to worry about. All the players have been briefed by the ECB, and been told there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. It’s for the ICC to sort out — they’re the people in charge — and if there’s anything to it they’ll look into it. But I’ve been told there’s nothing to worry about.’
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief, added his dismissal of these allegations when he said that ‘there is nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever. The limited information we have been given has been discussed with all the England players. They emphatically deny the allegations, have stated categorically that the claims are false and they have our full support.
‘Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption. ECB had been aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary for some time but [we] have not been given the full content. There have been repeated requests for any evidence and unedited materials to be shared with the ICC so they can fully investigate. We, like other member boards, are disappointed that Al Jazeera have not been more co-operative and responsible when making such serious allegations.
‘The ECB has a regular dialogue with the ICC and its anti-corruption unit, fully supports its work and will continue to co-operate with their review.’
Titled Cricket’s Match-Fixers, the documentary was screened on Sunday and claimed to expose the extent of corruption in cricket.
Cricket’s Match-Fixers is available to watch online and can be viewed on Al Jazeera at the following times:
- Wednesday, 30 May – 6am GMT
- Thursday, 31 May – 12pm GMT
- Friday, 1 June – 8pm GMT
- Saturday, 2 June – 1am GMT
- Sunday, 3 June – 6am GMT
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