The England and Wales Cricket Board is adamant a new documentary alleging widespread corruption in the international game does not compromise the integrity of any England players, past or present.
The Al Jazeera network released ‘Cricket’s Match Fixers: The Munawar Files’ on Sunday, during which it alleged to have uncovered evidence of 26 planned spot-fixes in 15 international matches – including seven involving England players.
The claims cover Test, one-day international and Twenty20 international matches from the early part of the decade and revolve around the manipulation of so-called ‘session betting’, where wagers are made on how many runs will be scored in a specified number of overs.
Al Jazeera also allege five of the matches involve players from Australia, with three concerning Pakistan, and aired a sequence which it says involves an England international – whose voice is distorted – on a call to an alleged match-fixer in 2011.
The ECB issued a strongly-worded response, in which it was critical of the Al Jazeera files it had been given access to, and said internal analysis had yielded no cause for concern.
“ECB takes its responsibilities on anti-corruption and preserving the integrity of cricket very seriously,” it read.
“Whilst the limited information we have been given by Al Jazeera is poorly prepared and lacks clarity and corroboration it has been properly assessed.
“Analysis of this by the ECB Integrity Team has cast no doubt on the integrity or behaviour of any England player, current or former.
“The materials we have been given have been referred to the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) and we will continue to work with them, as is the correct procedure for protecting the game. We are also working closely with the PCA and keeping them informed.”
The general manager of the ACU, Alex Marshall, confirmed the body was already looking into the claims and appealed for the complete assistance of Al Jazeera, which has passed its files to Interpol.
The ICC launched an appeal to find the alleged fixer Aneel Munawar after Al Jazeera’s previous documentary was shown in May.
“The investigation into these allegations has already commenced and will run alongside a number of other live unrelated investigations,” said Marshall.
“As with the first programme we have and will continue to ask for the co-operation of the broadcaster. We have made repeated efforts to engage with the broadcaster as it can play such a crucial part in the full and thorough investigation it has called for.
“However, I must refute the assertion that cricket does not take the issue of corruption seriously, we have more resources than ever before working to rid our sport of corruption.”
“We do welcome the commitment from the broadcaster to share the files with Interpol and, I hope, other law enforcement agencies who can act upon the information and support us in ridding the sport of these criminals.
Allegations from the May broadcast included suggestions of a spot-fixing plot in the 2016 Chennai Test between India and England, which were described as “outrageous” by England head coach Trevor Bayliss and “ridiculous” by team captain Joe Root.