Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has slammed the ICC and the cricket Boards for their “weak leadership” while dealing with corruption in the game, and said they need to do more to stamp out the menace.
Delivering a keynote address at the ‘ESPNcricinfo at 20’ event in Brisbane, Chappell said so far only “soft targets” have got the punishment for corruption from cricket administrators.
“I would like cricket administrators to get back to where priority number one is ... I think now the most important issue for cricket administration is corruption. I can’t think of anything other than corruption that can bring this game down,” Chappell said.
“I think if you look at the history of people who have been pinged with corruption charges, not much of it has come from cricket. Not much of it has come from the anti-corruption unit. Most of it has come from television stings, newspaper stings,” he said.
“If you look at what cricket has done, the only convictions cricket has got seem to me to be very, very soft targets. I don’t think that all the people, all the players, mixed up in this are all soft targets,” he added.
Chappell called for a zero-tolerance approach to fixing from the game’s administrators, including bans for players suspected of corruption, regardless of whether such suspicions would hold up in court.
“I think if cricket is going to rely on prosecuting these guys in court, you’re going to catch about one every hundred years. It’s damn near impossible. Cricket has to have a cricket punishment, which is obviously leaving guys out of the team if they think they’re dodgy, and I know that can be fraught with danger, but this is not a Marquis of Queensberry game. They’re not going to play by the rules, and I don’t think cricket can afford to.
“Players have got to become whistle-blowers, and they’ve got to be educated how important this is. You cannot tell me that if you’re in a dressing room and there’s some funny stuff going on, surely to Christ you’re going to know,” he said.
Chappell said the only way for the game to deal with corruption and its other problems was through strong, impartial leadership at ICC level and through the national boards.
But, he said the game’s administrators had shown themselves to be too weak and self-interested to look beyond the bottom line of profit.
“The game needs strong leadership, both on and off the field,” he said.
“What has bothered me particularly in recent times has been this seeming obsession with the bottom line. Most cricket administration decisions seem to be made purely with the bottom line in mind.”
He said that though he would agree to the “fashionable” view that the BCCI was arrogant, other Boards are also to be blamed for the problems currently being faced by world cricket.
“It’s quite fashionable in recent times to blame India for arrogance in their administration, and I would have to say that I agree with those feelings. But equally, I feel that the rest of the countries, particularly the major nations, are equally to blame, because none of them have stood up to India, and if you’re not going to stand up to India, then I don’t think you can criticise India for the way they are administering the game,” Chappell said.
“I think what the game needs is some strong and impartial leadership, and at the moment I think what it’s getting is weak and self-interested leadership. Is it a game or is it a business? It needs a happy balance. It needs to take the middle ground somewhere.”