26 spot-fixes in 15 international matches during 2011-12, claims Al Jazeera's documentary
Aneel Munawar, an alleged match-fixer on ICC's radar, is said to have been involved in 26 spot-fixing instances in six Tests, six ODIs and three World T20 matches between 2011-12, according to Al Jazeera's investigative documentary released on Sunday (October 21). Titled 'Cricket's Match Fixers: The Munawar Files', the documentary claims fixed passages of play in seven matches by England players, five matches by Australia players, three matches by Pakistan players, and in one match by players from another country.
The high-profile matches under the scanner this time include the 2011 Lord's Test between England and India and the 2011 Cape Town Test between South Africa and Australia, along with five matches in the 2011 World Cup and three in the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. The documentary also pointed out at possibly successful spot-fixing in each of the three England-Pakistan Tests in 2012 in the UAE.
The documentary pivots around the pictures and recordings - 'The Munawar Files' - that Al Jazeera's investigative unit claims to have obtained. The files include recordings of calls made by Munawar to Dinesh Khambat, a subordinate to Dinesh Kalgi who was a serial bookmaker based out of Ahmedabad before he died in 2014. Details of at least three fixes during the 2012 World T20 held in Sri Lanka were provided by Munawar to Kalgi, which included the England-Afghanistan match.
The documentary also revealed a phone call made by Munawar to an unnamed England player just before the start of the 2011 World Cup. He is heard telling the player: "Congratulations for the Ashes. The last payment is ready for going in the account. You will be credited in a week." The player is heard saying "lovely" in reply, although the audio was distorted to conceal the identity of the player. Al Jazeera claims to have approached the said player, who claimed that the conversation didn't take place and that the call recording was "fabricated".
The documentary also revealed pictures of Umar Akmal meeting a 'D-Company' associate in the hotel lobby on the night of the fix in the third Pakistan-England Testin Dubai. Akmal and the 'D-Company' associate are then photographed with a second man in the hotel lobby, with whom Akmal shakes hands and is seen inspecting a bag. The photographs, however, do not show Akmal leaving the lobby with the bag.
Akmal, in June this year, was summoned by Pakistan Cricket Board's anti corruption unit after he made claims that he was approached to fix matches in the Hong Kong Super Sixes, Pakistan's series against South Africa in the UAE, and the 2015 World Cup. Akmal had said that he was first approached during his second stint in Hong Kong, and was offered as much as USD 200,000 to play two dot balls. He also reported being approached for Pakistan's group game against India in the 2015 World Cup in one of many approaches before matches against India.
The documentary claims that Munawar successfully predicted 25 out of 26 outcomes. The one he couldn't missed the mark by a solitary run.
Munawar, who had been identified as a prominent match-fixer in Al Jazeera's first documentary 'Cricket's Match-Fixers' that aired in May this year, is supposedly a member of the 'D-Company' controlled by Dawood Ibrahim. He had informed an undercover reporter of impending fixes in the India-England Test that took place in Chennai in December 2016 as well as the India-Australia Test in Ranchi in March 2017, claiming that three England players and two Australian players were allegedly involved in spot-fixing activities.
In this second documentary, which focuses on Munawar's involvement in fixing-related activities, he is identified by several people as being an important member who looks after the betting syndicate of the 'D-Company'. Sonu Jalan, a bookie arrested in Mumbai earlier this year, is said to have identified Munawar and his connections with the 'D-Company'.
The ICC, towards the end of August 2018, had launched an appeal to identify Munawar while claiming that it had identified every other person in the first documentary and spoken to several of them in connection to match-fixing. However, Al Jazeera dismissed that by stating the ICC had known about Munawar for eight years and "yet, the ICC issued a global appeal to find Munawar only after Al Jazeera informed them it was preparing this documentary."
"They keep banging on about this (providing them raw, unedited footage) and we keep saying no reputable broadcasting organisation hands over footage because there is a risk of criminal investigation that could mean that the programme wouldn't even be aired. The second issue is that we, and many other people, have serious concerns about the ICC's ability to govern the game. The ICC's anti corruption unit is a small part of a vast organisation that exists to promote cricket and make money from it. And they make billions in television rights. Clearly there's a potential conflict of interest between an organisation that sets out to promote and make money, and a small part of that organisation which purports to tackle corruption," said David Harrison, reporter of the Al Jazeera Investigations wing which conducted the sting operation.
"Due to the seriousness of the allegations Al Jazeera has uncovered, it is planning to provide Interpol with a copy of 'The Munawar Files'," the documentary stated. What the ICC had to say
Reacting to the allegations in the documentary, Alex Marshall, general manager of ICC's ACU, said: "As you would expect we'll again take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make seriously and will investigate fully. However, I must refute the assertion that cricket does not take the issue of corruption seriously. We have more resources than ever before working to rid out sport of corruption.
"The investigation into these allegations has already commenced and will run alongside a number of other live unrelated investigations. Considering the claims, we will work with professional independent betting analysts."
As it had done earlier, the ICC has again requested the broadcaster to cooperate with the cricket governing body's investigation into corruption in the sport while appreciating Al Jazeera's intention to share a copy of its investigation with Interpol.
"As with the first programme we have, and will continue to, ask for the cooperation of the broadcaster. We have made repeated efforts to engage with the broadcaster as it can play a crucial part in the full and thorough investigation it has called for. We do welcome the commitment from the broadcaster to share the files with Interpol and, I hope, other law enforcement agencies who can act upon the information and support us in ridding the sport of these criminals," Marshall said in the statement.
ECB's point of view
"ECB takes its responsibilities on anti-corruption and preserving the integrity of cricket very seriously," an ECB spokesperson said. "Whilst the limited information we have been given by Al Jazeera is poorly prepared and lacks clarity and corroboration it has been properly assessed.
"Analysis of this by the ECB Integrity Team has cast no doubt on the integrity or behaviour of any England player, current or former. The materials we have been given have been referred to the ICC's Anti-Corruption unit and we will continue to work with them, as is the correct procedure for protecting the game.
"We are also working closely with the PCA and keeping them informed."
CA's point of view
"Cricket Australia takes a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game," James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's CEO said. "And to suggest anything otherwise is unsubstantiated and incorrect.
"Prior to the broadcast of Al Jazeera's documentary, Cricket Australia's Integrity Unit conducted a review of the latest claims by Al Jazeera, from a known criminal source, and, from the limited information provided by Al Jazeera, our team have not identified any issues of corruption by any current or former player, including in relation to Big Bash League matches.
"We have full confidence in our players in also protecting the game, and we are working closely with the ACA to keep them informed of any developments."