It’s perhaps a sign of the changing times, but David Richardson, CEO of the International Cricket Council (ICC), believes that delivering a secure and corruption-free cricket World Cup will be their greatest challenge over the next two months.
The 2015 edition of ICC’s premier one-day international tournament takes place in Australia and New Zealand from February 14, with the final of the 14-team quadrennial event taking place on March 29 in Melbourne.
While Richardson is not worried about the commercial success of the tournament – most of the big matches have been sold out, including the India-Pakistan clash in Adelaide on February 15, the tickets for which were gone within the first 20 minutes – it is security and the ugly spectre of match-fixing that is giving him the hibbie-jibbies.
Richardson said this was the first World Cup in which security has been the biggest expense for the ICC.
“Security… I suppose it is reflective of the global situation we are in. That has been a big challenge for us. The spend on security in this World Cup is more than ever before,” said the former South African wicketkeeper during an interaction with
select media at the ICC headquarters situated in the Dubai Sports City yesterday.
“Previously, the cost of travel and accommodation would exceed the security projects, but now it is the other way round. It is the biggest expense for the World Cup, apart from the prize money.
“It has been a challenge, but I think we are very well placed so there is not necessarily a threat to the tournament itself, but obviously we have to be aware of the global situation.
“The other factor of course is match-fixing and spot-fixing. Any incident along those lines will be a disaster for the event.
“However, I think the level of preparedness for this event is again the best we have ever been.”
Richardson is confident there will be no match-fixing at the World Cup, not only because of the extensive work done by the Anti Corruption Unit (ACU), cooperation with the local police authorities and also because the players today are much more educated in various aspects of corruption, and are reporting approaches.
“The ACU have been working for the last two-three years on putting in place memorandums of understandings with the New Zealand police and with the Australian police to make sure they make it very, very difficult for any of these fellows travelling around the world who are trying to influence matches,” added Richardson.
“Our intelligence has improved tremendously. Going back to the last World Cup, we had no real idea of who those fixers were and how they operated. Now, the data base of these guys is much more detailed.
“When we go Down Under, that information of more than a hundred names will be given to the department of immigration and police and any attempt by these guys to get close to the tournaments will be hopefully prevented.
“There are two ACU officials on duty at each venue and they not only watch the ground, but they will also watch the hotels and all that, but as I said, the pre-tournament intelligence is at such a level where we can brief the players beforehand.
“Added to that is the education programme that has been stepped up for the players.
“They get regular sessions. Probably, it is quite boring for them, but the people who fix matches are always trying new tactics and we keep on updating the players on those kinds of things.
“The number of approaches, the number of reports that we are getting from players, shows that the players have got this very much in the forefront of their minds and they are taking the responsibility seriously,” he added.
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