HKCA chief Mike Walsh says Hong Kong Sixes match-fixing allegations being taken 'very seriously'

Cricket official responds to revelations from Lou Vincent in ICC probe, as HKCA waits to hear how event is said to have been affected

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 May, 2014, 11:24am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 9:26am

Every effort had been taken to ensure the Hong Kong Sixes was free of match-fixing and revelations by New Zealand's Lou Vincent that the showpiece tournament had been a victim of widespread international match-fixing were a serious issue, according to top Hong Kong official Mike Walsh.

"Of course, this alleged match-fixing hurts our reputation. The Hong Kong Sixes does not want to be associated with this sort of thing. We are very concerned about this," said Walsh, chairman of the Hong Kong Cricket Association.

"The ICC hasn't got in touch with us and we will take advice from them.

It is an easy accusation to say the Hong Kong Sixes was also corrupted by match-fixing
Mike Walsh

"Obviously, we are a very small fish in the bigger picture with [Vincent] alleging that other events like the Indian Cricket League and tournaments in England had also been victim.

"But we can't afford to ignore this as it is a serious issue."

Disgraced New Zealand test cricketer Vincent, who has been under investigation since December by the ICC's anti-corruption unit, has revealed that the Hong Kong Sixes was a target of international match-fixing or spot-fixing syndicates.

The Daily Telegraph in London said Vincent had agreed to a plea bargain in the hope of avoiding a criminal prosecution for his involvement in and knowledge of spot-fixing in five or more countries over a four-year period between 2008-12.

The former Hong Kong batting coach played in the 2011 Hong Kong Sixes for the All-Stars, where he smashed a century in an exhibition Twenty20 match against a Rest of the World XI.

"It is an easy accusation to say the Hong Kong Sixes was also corrupted by match-fixing," Walsh said.

"Obviously, he is trying to get out of a big hole by cooperating with the investigation in exchange for immunity, and we will be looking forward to hearing how our tournament was affected.

"This was before I took over as chairman, but I know we had taken every possible precaution in the past to see that the Sixes were free of match-fixing.

"We banned players from carrying mobile phones, the ICC even sent its anti-corruption unit to our event," Walsh said.

It is understood the ICC's anti-corruption police are close to charging a former Pakistan international based on evidence provided by Vincent.

The investigation crosses several international jurisdictions and is expected to take another 12 to 18 months to complete, with anti-corruption officers determined to use the information to secure convictions.

The Telegraph reported that several of Vincent's allegations are believed to involve matches played in the now defunct Indian Cricket League, where he said players were offered bribes of money and prostitutes by shadowy figures.

He has also provided names and dates of meetings with fixers, which are being cross-referenced by the ICC.

Besides giving details of incidents at the Hong Kong Sixes, Vincent, who played 23 tests for New Zealand, also told investigators of fixing when he played for the Auckland Aces in New Zealand and when they played in the Twenty20 Champions League tournament in South Africa in October 2012.

A spokesman for the ICC stated the board never commented on anti-corruption matters.

At the 2010 Hong Kong Sixes, eyebrows were raised when Australia scored an improbable victory over Pakistan in the Cup final.

Australia needed 46 runs off the final over - eight balls - and reached the target off the last delivery, bowled by leg spinner Imran Nazir, a wide down the leg side which went to the boundary.

In April 2011, the Hong Kong Sixes was once again in the international limelight when popular website Cricinfo reported that members of the New Zealand team at the 2010 tournament had been approached by a "Middle Eastern diamond dealer" who offered them gifts.

The players had told the ICC of the suspicious approach, raising fears of possible match- or spot-fixing at the Sixes.

The Hong Kong Sixes was not held last year after the association failed to find a title sponsor and the government's Mega Events Fund turned down an application for funding.

The fate of this year's tournament, which has been slated for November, is still undecided as the HKCA tries to secure a major sponsor.