ICC suspends six umpires

Our Bureau and Agencies

Calcutta/Dubai: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended the six umpires 'exposed' in a television channel sting, which alleged that they were willing to fix matches, pending the completion of an inquiry against them.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the ICC said: "The International Cricket Council and its relevant Full Member Boards have agreed not to appoint any of the umpires named in a sting operation recently conducted by India TV to any domestic or international cricket matches pending the outcome of the ongoing investigations into the allegations made.

"The officials named are not contracted by the ICC and those Boards who employ and nominate the umpires directly will conduct the investigations as a matter of urgency," it added.

The channel had shown video clips purportedly taken by their undercover reporters in which the umpires were shown to be allegedly willing to give certain decisions for a fee.

The ICC is known to have asked the channel to share the tapes of the undercover operation so that the tapes may be examined by its anti-corruption unit and also studied by member boards in order to understand the contents of the sting operation and the context in which all statements were said to be made.

The tapes, seen on TV on Monday night, established that the two umpires who had been linked with two World Twenty20 practice matches did not officiate in any capacity in those matches, either on or off the field.

In the sting, conducted through July and August, the reporters claimed to belong to a sports management company and promised the umpires officiating assignments in events of all kinds around the world, largely domestic Twenty20 leagues.

The reporters, who worked undercover, carried out the sting mainly through interviews and conversations via Skype, an internet videophone service.

The six umpires who have been suspended are Nadeem Ghauri and Anees Siddiqui of Pakistan, Nadir Shah of Bangladesh, and Gamini Dissanayake, Maurice Winston and Sagara Gallage of Sri Lanka.

All of them have denied the allegations, insisting that they were trapped by the channel.

Ghauri, in fact, is planning to take legal action against the channel after the Pakistan Cricket Board "decided against jumping to conclusions".

Ghauri has said that he spoke to the undercover reporter with regard to umpiring in the Sri Lanka Premier League.

"I repeatedly told him that such matters are not discussed over the phone," he said.

Insisting that the video was fake and had been altered by the channel, Ghauri said he has met PCB officials and informed them about his stance on the issue. "I will take legal action once the Board also completes its inquiry," he added.

Ghauri also informed that the undercover reporters said that they will make him a part of a reality show, but an umpire in India, Anil Chaudhry, helped him find out that the offer was a fraud and the company does not exist.

A PCB official has said: "The Board has decided against jumping to conclusions over corruption allegations levelled on six umpires, including two from Pakistan, by an Indian television channel, and we are monitoring the situation."

The Bangladesh Cricket Board also issued a statement referring to "allegations of corruption... directed towards a Bangladeshi international panel umpire who is with the BCB on retainership basis." It pledged a "detailed inquiry" into the matter.

Nadir Shah has denied any involvement in match-fixing. "I was taken to Delhi to sign a contract for umpiring in the Sri Lanka Premier League," he said.

"But when I saw these people making match-fixing approaches, I backed off. I didn't do any SLPL matches, as you must know. I was never involved in match-fixing at any level."

Shah said that he cut off contact once he was approached about fixing. "These are baseless allegations. They said their piece, nobody is listening to what I have to say. When they asked me to fix matches, I said I can't do it," he said.

"I didn't let anyone know because I didn't think it would go that far. My agent told me to stop contacting them so when they called me later, I said I am not interested."