Cricket again came under a cloud as the Sunday Times, London, carried out a sting operation on a Delhi-based bookie who claimed last year's World Cup semifinal between India and Pakistan at Mohali was rigged.
The man, identified as Vicky Seth and described as "one of Delhi's most influential bookmakers", made a slew of "revelations" during a drinking session with an undercover Sunday Times reporter, who videotaped the conversation. The reporter had in 2010 exposed three Pakistani cricketers, who were later convicted, for indulging in "spot-fixing" in the News of the World newspaper.
India had won the semifinal match in which the number of catches dropped by the Pakistan team had become a talking point. However, the International Cricket Council denied to TOI that it was launching an inquiry into these claims although it could not be ruled out that there was an ongoing probe into some of the issues raised by the bookie.
The report quoted Seth as saying a Bollywood actress, who was not named, was used by bookies as a honeytrap to tempt county cricketers into corruption. The report asserted: "The ICC is aware of the activities of an actress, suspected of attempting to subvert players." The ICC declined comment.
The bookie also claimed that "big money" is to be made in Test matches and the Indian Premier League.
Asked to react, the head of media and communications at the ICC, Colin Gibson, said: "We don't comment on ICC's anti-corruption and security unit matters." He added the "spokesman" quoted by the UK's Sunday Times was neither him nor any of his colleagues.
Meanwhile, a source at the ICC pointed to the statement issued by Ravi Sawani, the ICC anti-corruption and security unit's chief investigator at the time, who denied there was anything suspicious about the Indo-Pak game and recorded that no investigation was needed or carried out. Sawani was last year credited with nailing the three Pakistani cricketers for spot-fixing and has since left ICC.
Seth is said to have boasted match-fixing "will always carry on in cricket". He said, "There is just so much money involved and it's easy to do as long as people don't talk".
Seth claimed "tens of thousands of pounds are on offer to fix matches". He reportedly told the paper that English county cricket was a growing market for fixing since the matches were low profile and were not being intensely monitored.