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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Ajman All Stars League probe: ICC urges national boards to take action against involved players

The unsanctioned event is being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Unit but the global governing body is powerless to take direct action

The ICC Headquarters in Dubai. The ICC has charged former Sri Lanka international with corruption relating to the all-rounder's involvement in matches in the 2017 T10 League held in Sahrjah. Satish Kumar / The National
The ICC Headquarters in Dubai. The ICC has charged former Sri Lanka international with corruption relating to the all-rounder's involvement in matches in the 2017 T10 League held in Sahrjah. Satish Kumar / The National

The ICC has urged national boards whose players have been involved in unsanctioned cricket, such as the Ajman All Stars League, to consider disciplinary action against them.

The global governing body’s Anti-Corruption Unit is investigating the competition, which came to worldwide prominence when footage of farcical dismissals during one match went viral on the internet.

The tournament, which was broadcast live on Neo Sports, was not sanctioned by either the Ajman Cricket Council or the Emirates Cricket Board.

However, Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager - Anti-Corruption, said the integrity of the game had been damaged.

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“The event was not approved or in any way sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) and therefore neither the ECB nor the ICC has authority to take action under cricket’s anti-corruption rules against anybody who may have engaged in any corrupt practice,” Marshall said.

“However after speaking to a number of those involved we consider there to be strong evidence to indicate this was a corrupt event and damaging to the wider reputation of cricket and as such will continue the investigation.”

The ICC is seeking information about the organisers of the event. It is also encouraging national cricket boards to consider action against players involved in “unsanctioned cricket”.

A number of UAE domestic cricketers were involved in the Ajman matches, as well as two prominent former Pakistan international players.

“Our ongoing enquiries will now focus on identifying the organisers of the tournament to prevent similar incidents occurring elsewhere and to disrupt corrupt practices wherever we can,” Marshall said.

“In addition, all Member Boards whose players have participated in this event will be asked to consider whether by doing so, those players are in breach of any other applicable rules, including those that prohibit participation in unsanctioned cricket, and if so for disciplinary action to be taken against them.”

The ICC is trying to crack down on pop-up leagues that have not been endorsed by a recognised body, which are broadcast on the subcontinent, and can be gambled on in illegal betting markets.

Rather than selling the rights to broadcast their matches, as is the way of major tournaments and series, organisers can buy air-time to show their competitions on certain channels.

Shaji Ul Mulk, the secretary of Ajman Cricket Council, said he acted as swiftly as possible to bring an end to the All Stars tournament, as soon as he was notified it was going on. The council have since suspended Ajman Oval, the venue, from staging cricket matches.

“Live telecasts are not easy to hide,” Ul Mulk said. “You needs trucks, cameras, so at best you can only spring a surprise for a day. On Day 2, we knew about it. So as far as we are concerned, it is not easy at all for someone to get away with it.”