The ICC on Monday dismissed claims made by news channel Al Jazeera that India’s Test matches against England (2016) and Australia (2017) were fixed, saying the passages of play identified as fixed were entirely predictable, and therefore “implausible as a fix”.
Al Jazeera in a documentary — ‘Cricket’s Match Fixers’ — released in 2018 had claimed that India’s game against England in Chennai in 2016 and the one against Australia in 2017 in Ranchi were fixed.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) also cleared five people — filmed by the channel — of any wrongdoing saying even as they behaved in a questionable manner but no credible evidence was available to charge them.
During the programme, an alleged bookie Aneel Munnawar was seen making claims about his dubious connections and history of fixing matches including two Tests involving Virat Kohli’s Indian team.
The ICC had launched an investigation into the claims.
“The programme alleged that two matches were fixed: India v England in Chennai in 2016 and India v Australia in Ranchi in 2017. To assess whether the passages of play highlighted in the programme were unusual in any way, the ICC engaged four independent betting and cricketing specialists to analyse the claims,” the ICC said in a release after it concluded its investigation.
“All four concluded that the passages of play identified in the programme as being allegedly fixed were entirely predictable, and therefore implausible as a fix,” the release added.
The ICC did not name the people exonerated but sources said former Pakistan cricketer Hasan Raza, Sri Lanka’s Tharanga Indika and Tharindu Mendis were among them. They had joined the investigation, carried out of the world governing body.
While small-time Mumbai first-class cricketer Robin Morris was also filmed, he didn’t join the investigations.
“No charges will be brought under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code against any of the five Participants to the Code who featured in the programme due to insufficient credible and reliable evidence,” the ICC said.
The comprehensive ICC investigation focused on three main areas: the claims made by the programme, the suspects who were part of it and how the programme gathered evidence.
“In the case of the claims aired in this programme, there are fundamental weaknesses in each of the areas we have investigated that make the claims unlikely and lacking in credibility, a viewpoint that has been corroborated by four independent experts,” GM (Integrity Unit) Alex Marshall was quoted as saying in the release.
“On the basis of the programme, the Participants to the Code who were filmed appear to have behaved in a questionable manner, however, we have been unable to assess the full context of the conversations that took place beyond what was seen on screen versus what the Participants claim actually happened.
“This combined with the absence of any other credible evidence means there are insufficient grounds to bring charges under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code,” Marshall said.