Cricket authorities on Wednesday suspended six umpires at the centre of claims by an Indian television program that they could be bribed to make favorable 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 favor, 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.
BPL media manager warned Bangladesh of certain people’s dubious intentions
Minhaz Uddin Khan, Media Manager of the Bangladesh Premier League, said that he warned the Bangladesh Cricket Board of the dubious intentions of certain people from India who approached him recently and pointed out that an attempt was made to tarnish his image in the corruption case against some umpires. In a message he said: “A recent report broadcast on India TV alleging acts of corruption against some international umpires have caught my attention. Unfortunately the report has a portion where I have been shown to make ‘objectionable’ observations and remarks naming some Pakistani cricketers. “Though I have not been implicated in any degree of corruption, the report has made every effort to string together the casual remarks and project that as proof of wrongdoings of the cricketers. “I had visited India on invitation from the undercover reporters who had portrayed themselves as sports agents who wanted to offer endorsement, umpiring and playing opportunities for Bangladeshi players and officials in the Sri Lankan Premier League. Being a sports journalist myself and as an official of a Bangladesh Premier League team and someone with an interest in sports management, I decided to go to India after consulting some of my family members, colleagues and friends. “I met the reporters in Delhi in August this year. In one meeting the people who came in the guise of sports agents wanted to get information out of me which had no relevance to the purpose of my visit. I became suspicious straight away but played along and responded spontaneously to their queries as I did not know whether they were criminals or not and I feared for my safety as I was all alone there. “Once the meeting was over I immediately warned fellow Bangladeshis who have received similar approaches. I told them that I thought those people had dubious intentions and that they should not speak to them. They can testify to that. “Let me make this clear that the ‘information’ about the Pakistani cricketers that the Indian private channel is claiming that I had revealed has no relevance to reality. It was all bogus and part of an act which I considered necessary at that moment for ensuring my security. “I can say this with all honesty to the cricketers and their families that I never meant a word I said in relation to their conduct. I know most of these cricketers personally and maintain a healthy relationship with them. There is no way that these cricketers, some of whom are the heart of Pakistan cricket, can ever do things that tarnish the image of their country and family,” he concluded.