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Cricket’s Match-Fixers

England, Australia and Pakistan cricketers allegedly involved in spot-fixing: Al Jazeera

Top international cricketers from Australia, England and Pakistan have been allegedly involved in spot-fixing, claims the recent episode of Al Jazeera’s series Cricket’s Match Fixers.

The documentary claims to have evidence of two dozen fixes in 15 international matches.

The evidence, from 2011 and 2012, points to a small group of England players allegedly carrying out spot-fixes in seven matches; Australia players in five matches; Pakistan players in three, with players from other teams carrying out spot-fixes in one match. In some cases, both teams appear to have delivered a fix.

Al Jazeera claims to have obtained purported recordings of a match-fixer calling in the fixes to a notorious Indian bookmaker linked to the organised crime. He is unaware that the recordings were leaked.

Allegedly fixed games

The matches in which fixes were allegedly carried out include:

England versus India at Lord's Cricket Ground (2011)

South Africa versus Australia in Cape Town (2011)

Several matches during England's series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (2012)

The files available suggest that the suspected fixes were usually carried out by batsmen who agreed to underperform.

Some of the world's most famous players were batting when the fixes allegedly occurred.

Many of the matches appear to include multiple fixes, making a total of 26 fixes in the 15 matches.

Aneel Munawar

 Aneel Munawar, speaking to Al Jazeera's David Harrison ©Al Jazeera

Aneel Munawar, speaking to Al Jazeera's David Harrison ©Al Jazeera

The channel previously exposed an alleged match-fixer, Aneel Munawar, in the documentary, Cricket's Match-Fixers, in May earlier this year.

Munawar is based in Mumbai but spends much of his time in Dubai. The follow-up film, The Munawar Files, reveals how Munawar has been allegedly corrupting international cricket since 2010.

The matches include six Tests, six One Day Internationals and three T20 World Cup games.

The documentary also claims that the International Cricket Council had known about Munawar for eight years. Yet, the ICC issued a global appeal to find Munawar only after Al Jazeera informed them it was preparing this documentary.

A UK-based firm of sports betting analysts said the odds of Munawar accurately predicting 25 of the 26 outcomes without fixing them were 9.2 million to one.

In the recordings, Munawar uses the same methods and language that he used during Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation in 2016 and 2017, when he gave advance details about alleged fixes in two Test matches in India.

His predictions were accurate in both cases.

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Umar Akmal

 Virat Kohli with Aneel Munawar [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

Virat Kohli with Aneel Munawar [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

A channel dossier also includes photographs of Munawar and his associates hovering near, and purportedly talking to, international cricket players during the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2012.

There is no suggestion that these players were involved in match-fixing.

Among the players the match-fixer was seen close to is Virat Kohli, now India's captain and widely regarded as the world's best cricket player.

Other photographs show Umar Akmal, a Pakistani player, receiving and peering into a bag allegedly given to him by a Munawar associate, though the photographs do not show whether Akmal left with the bag.

 Umar Akmal, pictured with a Munawar associate [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

Umar Akmal, pictured with a Munawar associate [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

Others who appear in the photographs include Andy Bichel, the Australian coach, and senior Indian players including Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and Lakshmipathy Balaji.

The ICC claims to have "spotters" at international tournaments to protect players from match-fixers.

The Munawar Files also include a recording of a call allegedly made by Munawar to an unnamed English cricketer, in which they appear to discuss spot-fixing. Munawar could be heard saying he is sending money to the player's account.

 Rohit Sharma with Aneel Munawar [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

Rohit Sharma with Aneel Munawar [The player depicted is not implicated in any wrongdoing] ©Al Jazeera

A forensic speech scientist has examined the recording and concluded that it had not been tampered with.

The player believed to be speaking with Munawar denied that the conversation took place and suggested the recording was a fabrication.

Munawar's identity

In the new documentary, Munawar's identity and match-fixing role is confirmed by a man who worked for the Indian bookmaker, and received and recorded Munawar's calls about the fixes.

Munawar's role is further confirmed by a senior Indian detective who arrested Sonu Jalan, an alleged high-profile criminal, days after the first Al Jazeera documentary was broadcast.

Pradeep Sharma, who fights organised crime in a Mumbai suburb, said Jalan had told officers that he knew Munawar.

"He had met him in Dubai," Sharma said. "He also informed us that he is connected to the D-Company. He looks after the betting syndicate of the D-Company."

D-Company is a powerful South Asian mafia that operates out of Pakistan, India and Dubai, and is believed to be heavily involved in match-fixing.

Lawyers for the England and Australia teams have rejected Al Jazeera's evidence, while the ICC did not respond to questions about Munawar.

[Update] ICC's response

The International Cricket Council has responded to the recent revelations by Al Jazeera’s documentary Cricket’s Match-Fixers: The Munawar Files, committing to take the contents of the programme and allegations made seriously.

“The ICC is committed to working to uphold integrity in cricket. As you would expect we will again take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make seriously and will investigate fully,” read the statement from Alex Marshall, General Manager – ICC Anti-Corruption Unit.

“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 our sport of corruption.”

Marshall added that investigation into the alleged claims was already underway.

“The investigation into these allegations has already commenced and will run alongside a number of other live unrelated investigations. When considering the claims, we will work with professional independent betting analysts.”

Marshall also appealed the broadcaster to cooperate in the investigation by providing the relevant evidence.

“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 such 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.”