Umpires in TV corruption sting suspended by ICC
11 October, 2012
COLOMBO: Cricket authorities on Wednesday suspended six umpires at the centre of claims by an Indian television programme that they could be bribed to make favourable decisions during games.
An undercover investigation by the India TV channel allegedly found that the umpires, including one on the international circuit, were willing to give biased decisions or provide inside information in return for payment.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the suspensions after a meeting in Colombo, where the West Indies defeated hosts Sri Lanka in the final of the World Twenty20 tournament on Sunday. “The ICC and its relevant Full Member Boards have agreed not to appoint any of the umpires named in a sting operation recently conducted by India TV to any domestic or international cricket matches,” it said in a statement. “Those Boards who employ and nominate the umpires directly will conduct the investigations as a matter of urgency,” it added. Three of those named were from Sri Lanka, while two were from Pakistan. The sixth was Nadir Shah, one of two Bangladeshi members of the ICC’s international panel, which officiates in matches around the world.
Grainy footage appeared to show Shah, who has stood in 40 one-day internationals and a number of Twenty20 internationals, saying he was willing to give decisions on demand. An India TV transcript of the sting said Shah allegedly offered to give incorrect LBW (leg before wicket), run-out and inside-edge verdicts. “If the umpire is shown a favour, the umpire can do anything,” Shah was quoted as saying in the transcript. The video does not show any cash being exchanged nor did the privately owned channel broadcast any proof of the umpires delivering decisions or information.
Shah and the other umpires have rejected the allegations. Gamini Dissanayake, one of the Sri Lankans, told AFP on Wednesday that he wanted an inquiry to start as soon as possible so he could clear his name. “I am not involved in any fixing and this allegation is a complete lie,” Dissanayake said. “I have asked the board to have an inquiry at the earliest opportunity.” Dissanayake officiated at two warm-up matches during the World Twenty20 and has also been a reserve umpire at international games when India, Pakistan and other nations have toured Sri Lanka. “I think the Indian channel implicated Sri Lankan umpires to discredit the image of Sri Lanka,” he said. “I am confident I can clear my name.”
Sri Lanka Cricket said they had scheduled a formal hearing on Thursday with the three local umpires. India TV chairman Rajat Sharma has vowed that his channel would cooperate with the ICC by handing over its unedited tapes. Three Pakistani cricketers were last year jailed in Britain after being found guilty of spot-fixing following a newspaper sting. Shah was among the umpires at the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League earlier this year, a local version of India’s IPL Twenty20 tournament. The competition was marred by corruption allegations and ended up with former Bangladeshi international Shariful Haque being indefinitely banned.