x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pakistan given eight-point ultimatum

Before UAE series ICC stresses 'zero tolerance' stance towards corruption.

Dubai // The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been given an eight-point plan to clean up its act ahead of the series against South Africa in the UAE, starting later this month. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been meeting in Dubai for the past two days and has made protecting the integrity of the game its key priority.

Stung by the recent spot-fixing controversies, the ICC has stepped up its fight against corruption, with special attention being paid to the clean up of the sport in Pakistan. High on the agenda in Dubai was the ongoing investigation into the spot-fixing allegations against the three Pakistan cricketers - Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif - during the recent tour of England, and the fallout dominated the discussions.

Under the ICC's Anti-Corruption Code, the trio have been suspended from all forms of cricket and a hearing of their appeal against the provisional sentence is scheduled on October 30 and 31 in Doha. While the ICC refused to make any comments on the ongoing investigations, "so as not to prejudice the case", Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, reaffirmed the world cricket body's zero tolerance to corruption in cricket and outlined a broad list of measures agreed by the board.

"The future of our great sport depends on the public maintaining their confidence in the games they are watching," Pawar said after the board meeting yesterday. "We owe it to every player, administrator, every cricket lover to win this battle against a very small minority who may wish to corrupt this game. "The matter of integrity is non-negotiable. Integrity and honesty are the bedrock of our game and the ICC will protect that foundation stone with everything at its disposal."

Educating the players tops the list of measures adopted to deal with this challenge and the ICC board has issued a "broad advisory to all players reminding them of their individual and collective obligations to ensure that the integrity of the game is upheld and the severe consequences of a failure to do so". Most of the other measures in the action plan were aimed at Pakistan, with their cricket board being instructed to "act and be seen to be acting to uphold the zero-tolerance attitude to corruption in sport".

To this end, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been asked to "conduct a thorough review of player integrity issues across all authorised cricket in Pakistan and report back to the Pakistan Task Team within 30 days". The PCB has also been asked to implement "a competency-based education programme for all registered players", "a proper, accountable and robust disciplinary process for the sport" and a "deterrent and detection process to protect the game from corrupt elements, whether it be players, officials, agents or any other individual".

In addition the PCB has been asked to introduce a "domestic anti-corruption code, which mirrors the ICC Anti-Corruption Code" and to "desist from taking any actions, which might put themselves in a conflict of interest position as regards the allegations that are the subject of disciplinary proceedings". To help the process the PCB has been urged to "strongly encourage their players to provide any relevant information to the Anti Corruption and Security Unit on a confidential basis".

Any player who comes forward and incriminates himself in the process could, under the "Substantial Assistance" provisions of the Anti-Corruption Code, seek to use his co-operation as a mitigating factor in the consideration of appropriate sanctions". The ICC Board has also advised the PCB to "desist from making public comments and disclosing confidential information which undermine the integrity, reputation and image of the game and, or any ongoing disciplinary or criminal investigation/proceedings".

The ICC's Pakistan Task Team has been authorised by the ICC board, under a revised mandate, to undertake a review and provide recommendations that would help the PCB to carry out any "reforms, which may be deemed necessary to restore confidence in the administration of the game in Pakistan". The Task Team will also be making sure that the PCB "deliver on these measures". If the PCB fails to carry out these measures "to the satisfaction of the board [acting in consultation with the Pakistan Task Team] within the next 30 days, the board will consider what further action [including, if appropriate, sanctions] is required in the circumstances".

The board has also decided on an independent "review of the capability and capacity of the ICC's anti-corruption measures to deal with the challenges of corruption". Pakistan start their one-day international series against South Africa in Abu Dhabi on October 26 while the first of two Tests will begin in Dubai on November 12. arizvi@thenational.ae