Lord Condon, once the head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, has upset plenty in England over his comments that match fixing was rife in English county cricket in the 1980’s.
He also claimed that tests and world cup matches were being fixed routinely in the late 1990’s and that every international team, at some stage, had someone doing some funny stuff.
I don’t dispute for a minute that there is more than a strong possibility that domestic matches were decided with nods, winks, and “we’ll go easy today in the county championship and you go easy in the Sunday league game” (usually in the middle of the county championship game) scenarios, back in the 1980’s, and they are still going on today to some extent with the manufactured run chases.
Back in the 1980’s, county cricket was more of an old boys club, no relegation worries, not so many financial worries (if memory serves me right), there was also fewer restrictions on gambling back then. There also wasn’t the explosion in gambling that we see today.
In short, it wouldn’t have been called match fixing back in those days.
It is a general allegation and it is easy for Condon to say that about the county championship back in those days, the problem is, that it is a damaging accusation to all those players of that era.
I’m sure that it could also be said that some players of that era were also racists, as the sort of language that is regarded as a racist slur these days, was (wrongly) seen as acceptable back then.
Does this mean that some/all players of this era were racists as well? This is the damage that sweeping allegations can do.
Times are different now, it doesn’t make it right, but all these things were accepted as the norm back in those days, so to retrospectively call it match fixing seems a bit harsh to me. It was probably a form of match fixing, but it can’t be compared to the multi-billion pound gambling industry that is attempting to organise spot-fixing these days.
Onto the international scene of tests and world cup matches in the 1990’s, and that’s a totally different scenario. No one could have been doing a county championship style ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ in test and world cup fixtures, the prospect of that is just totally incomprehensible.
In general, I don’t agree with Condon making sweeping statements (about county cricket), but in the instance of his international accusation, I don’t believe this to be a sweeping one. Condon said that every international team, at some stage, had someone doing some funny stuff. That’s a more specific accusation, it says to me that the ICC (may) know of, or suspect, certain individuals.
Lord Condon is a man of integrity and highly intelligent, I don’t believe him to be making outlandish statements just to gain publicity here.
Why he has said this without naming names? I don’t know, maybe there is not enough evidence, or maybe the evidence is word of mouth? These is probably never going to be a paper trail either.
It’s all well and good people like David Lloyd getting their knickers in a twist over this insinuation, but what’s the alternative, say nothing and continue to bury all the collective heads?
I wish that if Condon has strong evidence he would say who he alleges is guilty and get this all out in the open, also to give the accused the opportunity to clear their names, I know that he probably won’t though due to legal reasons.
One possible scenario that would shed some light on all this would be a Parliamentary Select Committee investigation. Lord Condon would have to be called in light of what he has said and the work he did in the anti corruption unit, I do believe that he would also have Parliamentary immunity from prosecution and so would be free to name names.
The English FA in football have recently had to give evidence to a Select Committee about how it is run, so why not cricket?
After all cricket is a national sport, it’s reputation is currently getting dragged through the gutter, so why shouldn’t Parliament get involved?