Mohammad Shahzad, the Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman, has become the latest high-profile subject of a spot-fixing approach. The offer, made during the ongoing Asia Cup, was to underperform in the inaugural edition of the Afghan Premier League T20 to be played in Sharjah from October 5 to 23.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Shahzad immediately reported the approach to the team management, and all protocols were followed in raising the matter with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. Shahzad was picked up by the Paktia franchise to play in a tournament that is set to feature a number of current and former internationals like Brendon McCullum, Shahid Afridi and Chris Gayle.
“There was an approach made during the Asia Cup, but for their [Afghanistan’s] own T20 league,” an ICC official said. “The matter was reported through the right channels on Saturday and is being looked into by the anti-corruption unit.”
Speaking at a media event in Dubai on Monday, Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, confirmed as many as five international captains have been approached for spot-fixing over the last 12 months; four of them from Full Member countries. Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, is the only one to have publicly stated that an approach had been made, during the Sri Lanka series last year.
“There have been 32 investigations in the last 12 months, eight involve players as suspects,” Marshall said at the ICC’s headquarters. “Five of them involve administrators or non-playing personnel. Three of these individuals have been charged. Five internationals captains have also reported receiving approaches to spot-fix.”
Marshall underlined the need to work closely with all boards to prevent corruption and of the need to keep educating players about the many methods fixing syndicates use to spread their influence across the newly formed T20 leagues.
“We try to link up with the intelligence. We look at what we know about this event, are we providing anti-corruption cover, are we already there or is it being provided by another party? Are there any other strands of intelligence we have about that tournament. Is there anything about financial backers or the people surrounding the tournament are suspicious?
“We never launch off an investigation because something looks odd on the field or we get a single anonymous report. We get quite a lot of single, anonymous reports. We start putting the pieces together and there’s sufficient reason to think on reasonable grounds to start investigating this, then we take it on. We do find a lot of corrupters who move between formats of international and domestic, because they’re looking for the opportunity and vulnerability.”
On Sunday, Ehsan Mani, the new PCB chairman, expressed reservations of fielding Pakistan players in the upcoming T10 League citing doubts over credibility of franchise owners. Dave Richardson, the ICC chief executive, said the tournament had their backing, but also stated the need to remain vigilant. Mani, however, is yet to formally take a call on the matter and a meeting between him and the players is expected to take place soon.
“I will first satisfy myself that we have enough information on the T10 before we release our players,” Mani said. “We have to be satisfied where the money is coming from. We have to be satisfied who the sponsors are, we have to be satisfied who the franchisees are. None of this information exists in any file in the PCB today. Until we are satisfied there are no risks to the players, the board, or our reputation, no player will play. We are having discussions with ICC on this, and if they can give us assurances they do not have an issue with the T10, then I will not have an issue.”