Billion-dollar crackdown on World Cup bookmakers

Malcolm Speed estimates more than USD 1 billion (AUD 1.3b) could be bet on individual World Cup matches as the International Cricket Council prepares to send an army of anti-corruption officers to the tournament in a bid to stamp out rorting from illegal bookmakers.

The ICC‘s anti-corruption and security unit’s focus has switched from match fixing to what it calls micro-fixing, where vast sums of money, especially on the sub-continent, are wagered on minute details such as batting and bowling orders, what the captain will do if he wins the toss … the type of information only available from players or officials.

„The ICC anti-corruption and security unit will be in force,“ Speed, the ICC chief executive, said. „They don’t seek to attract attention to themselves but they will be there. The unit has an excellent network of contacts which assists its investigative team in tracking bookmakers and other persons who have been involved in corruption in the past.“

The ICC‘s current investigation into West Indian Marlon Samuels is a prime example of the current bookmaking trends.

Samuels was recorded having a conversation in room 206 of Nagpur’s Pride Hotel with a suspected bookmaker, Mukesh Kochar, the night before a one-day match against India in January.

Samuels said he would bowl first change in the match, a rarity for him as an off spinner in a side with four fast bowlers. He did perform as predicted and anyone betting on that particular anomaly would have made a killing with the bookies.

„There will be stringent measures in place to deal with any suggestions of corruption during the tournament,“ said Speed, adding his belief that certain marquee matches could attract worldwide bets worth more than USD 1 billion.

All 16 World Cup teams will be assigned a security and anti-corruption manager who will shadow the side throughout the tournament. Australia’s ICC-approved regional corruption manager is a former inspector for the NSW Police, John Rhodes. Previously he’s been seconded to the Sydney Olympics organising committee and toured with the Australian rugby team as its risk management adviser. Rhodes will monitor player behaviour and dealings and investigate any movements that risk contravening the ICC‘s conduct code.

„That will be the focus throughout the World Cup,“ Speed said.

Mobile phones are banned from dressing rooms. Penalties for breaches range from two-year bans to life bans. Players cannot bet on any match at the tournament, provide team or match information to anyone or keep any approaches quiet.

Rhodes drummed all these messages into Australia’s players during their pre-season camp at Coolum last year and stern reminders will be dished out before their first warm-up game on March 6.

„Players are educated on an annual basis in formal training sessions about ICC rules and regulations and that includes all the issues you’ve raised here,“ Cricket Australia operations manager Michael Brown said.

„We spend a lot of time making sure they’re educated and up-to-date with the latest trends.“