London: Former ICC Anti-Corruption Unit Chief Paul Condon has made a sensational claim that every international team was involved in match-fixing at some stage in the 1990s.

Condon, who was founding head of the ICC's ACSU, said match fixing was not just restricted to Indian sub-continent.

"In the late 1990s, Test and World Cup matches were being routinely fixed. From the late Eighties certainly through to 1999-2000 there were a number of teams involved in fixing, and certainly more than the Indian sub-continent teams were involved," the 64-year-old said Condon.

"Every international team, at some stage, had someone doing some funny stuff."
    
Condon said the players of that era perhaps had full knowledge of what's happening around but chose to keep mum.

"A whole generation of cricketers playing in the late 1990s must've known what was going on and did nothing. When they look back on their careers, a bit of shame must creep in. The last fixes of whole matches, or even series, were probably in 2001 before we'd really got the unit going."

Condon also claimed that it all began in United Kingdom with County teams fixing friendly leagues but not for money.

"It started with friendly fixes in the UK in the old Sunday leagues. Over a weekend you'd have a county side playing their county match and then a Sunday league match and there would be friendly fixes, not for money but for manipulating places in the leagues.
    
"If you're Team A and have a higher position in the Sunday league and I'm captain of Team B and my team have no chance in the Sunday league, I might do a deal to ensure you got maximum points in your Sunday league match. You would reciprocate in the County Championships. These friendly fixes quickly became more sinister, probably in the Eighties."

In 2000, ICC established Anti-Corruption Unit when the then South African captain Hansie Cornje was found involved in rigging of the games
    
Condon also said that the menace of the spot-fixing might have started during the 2003 World Cup as there were instances which suggested it.
    
"In one group match during a couple of overs two guys suddenly went from scoring runs in double figures to just ones and twos. For spot fixing, that's all you need. From 2003 spot fixing became the name of the game," he said.

Commercialization of cricket corrupted players

Paul feels that the commercialization of cricket with the advent of Twenty20 leagues such as Stanford Super Series played a major role in encouraging players to adopt corrupt means for earning quick money.
   
The winning team of that Super Series took home USD 20 million as prize money while the loser got nothing. Condon said since many players were earning mind-boggling sums by playing in these short-format leagues, the ones who were not part of it, took the other route.

"The frenzied commercialization of Twenty20 changed the whole dynamic. Cricket lost control of its integrity for about 18 months. People lost sight of what cricket was about. So you had the saga of helicopters landing at Lord's, that whole Stanford thing with a million pounds coming out of helicopters," Condon said.

"This made it easier for cricketers to have a twisted logic.’Well, everyone else is making squillions. All I'm going to do is bowl a couple of no-balls. I'm not even going to affect the outcome. We can still win, I could still be man of the match and a hero,'" he said.
    
He said when he warned the ICC Board at a meeting in 2008 about the rise of money-spinning Twenty20 leagues, the BCCI was angry at him for speaking against the IPL.
   
 "I remember saying two choices. You can either say T20 is such a crazy form of game, you quarantine it. If current Test players go into that, they can't come back to Test. But that would never work. You've got to have a fit and proper regime, as you would with gambling, and a proper anti-corruption endeavour to monitor tournaments," Condon said.

"However, there was a lot of anger from the Indian representatives who said I had no right to suggest that. They felt I was challenging the legitimacy of the IPL," he was quoted as saying by a newspaper. 

Condon, who served as commissioner of London Metropolitan Police, has little sympathy for the three Pakistani players, who were held guilty of spot-fixing, not even 19-year-old Mohammad Amir, who was given six months term in a young offenders institution.

"Amir is an unsophisticated young man. If you're put in an environment where you think your future career is threatened if you don't do what your captain's asking you to do, and there's no one in the team management you feel you can go to, in that sense you feel sorry for that young man.

"But that's not to say he doesn't deserve a symbolic punishment. He's the only one I have even a moderate amount of sympathy for. To keep cricket clean sentences have to be exemplary," he said.

He is adamant that cricket must now implement two of the measures he recommended back in 2001.

"The players must be involved. Cricketers have less power than players in probably any other major sport like golf, tennis or football. The anti-corruption endeavor was always something done to them, never with them. There was a grudging reluctance by players to have anything to do with the anti-corruption endeavor."

On England captain Andrew Strauss' view that the authorities were not doing enough to deal with the problem of corruption in cricket, Condon said, "I understand Strauss' anger. They want someone to be able to wave a magic wand and say it's all gone away. But life isn't like that.

"Intelligent and sophisticated people like Strauss have to be part of the solution. And cricketers on the Indian sub-continent have to have confidence in their boards so they can whistle-blow. In recent years, there's been very little whistle-blowing from current players."

(Agencies)