The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday highlighted multiple cases of corruption in the 2021 edition of the Abu Dhabi T10 league and released a statement saying eight players and officials are being charged for breaching different counts.
The charges refer to the Emirates Cricket Board’s (ECB) Anti-Corruption Code for Participants for the T10 League (the ‘Code’). “The charges relate to the 2021 Abu Dhabi T10 League (and attempts to corrupt matches). These attempts were disrupted. The ICC was appointed by the ECB as the Designated Anti-Corruption Official (DACO) for the purposes of the ECB’s Code for this tournament, and as such, we are issuing these charges on the ECB’s behalf,” states an ICC media release.
However, the surprising bit here is that neither the ICC nor the ECB—on whose behalf the ICC says it has issued the charges—are acknowledging the conflicting role of T10 league founder Shaji Ul Mulk.
While Mulk founded and runs this T10 league, he also happens to be a “co-opted member” of the ECB and has his name mentioned alongside chairman HH Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and vice chairman Khalid Al Zarooni, along with other board members and the general secretary.
News18 CricketNext contacted the ICC to check whether this constitutes a conflict, or shouldn’t Mulk have recused himself from either or both roles while the investigation was underway? The governing body hasn’t responded yet, and the story will be updated as soon as they do.
The Abu Dhabi T10 got the ICC sanction back in 2018, but the league has had numerous bouts with controversy since. An extensive Sportsmail Investigation in January this year revealed “questionable activity around the teams” participating in the T10 league.
“Sportsmail has learned that in the regulated markets, up to £800,000 was wagered on individual matches that attracted only a few hundred paying spectators. It is an unusually high figure, almost certainly dwarfed by the activity in unregulated markets on the subcontinent, where gambling is illegal.
“The ICC also received reports of questionable activity around the teams, including franchise owners dictating bowling and batting orders in advance without considering the conditions, star players being dropped at short notice, and batters giving their wickets away with inexplicable shots,” read the report.
The ICC has sanctioned the T10 as a “semi-professional cricket tournament,” but the format isn’t recognised by the governing body yet. CricketNext asked the ICC how it looks at the T10 format, and we will update the story as soon as they respond.
Until now, for the record, there has been no clarity on how the game’s global governing body or any of its members view the format and have not acknowledged publicly if T10 officially has a future.
As far as sanctioning the Abu Dhabi T10 league is concerned, the ICC spokesperson says, “The event met the criteria and was thus sanctioned. It has continued to demonstrate that it has adequate anti-corruption measures and protections in place. This is reviewed each year, to ensure continuing compliance.”
The ICC-ECB arrangement
The ECB has appointed the ICC as the “designated anti-corruption official” for the league, so the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the global body looks after Abu Dhabi T10 affairs. It is a professional arrangement where the ECB pays the ICC for using their ACU services.
The ACU unit of the ICC is headed by Mr. Alex Marshall, who is also in charge of the Human Resources (HR) department. As CricketNext extensively reported last week, a former female staffer of the ICC alleged workplace harassment by Marshall, but her numerous emails and letters to the top bosses have yet to get a response.
“Taking a huge risk, I am hereby sharing my official complaint with you against Alex Marshall for causing me mental harassment, using his authority and power as General Manager HR to cause me professional harm, and spreading rumours to cause reputational harm to me,” the staffer had written to CEO Geoff Allardice on Marshall.
CricketNext reached out to the ICC with multiple specific questions on the complaints and allegations against Marshall, but there hasn’t been any detailed response yet.
Former CEO Manu Sawhney had also ordered an external and independent review of the Integrity Unit headed by Marshal, another subject the ICC refuses to respond to.
Marshall continues to lead two crucial departments in the organisation, and the silence from the top bosses continues.
Meanwhile, CricketNext also understands that Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chairman of the ICC’s ACU, visited the Dubai office last week and was locked in a meeting with Marshall, ICC chairman Greg Barclay, and CEO Allardice. The agenda of the meeting is not known at this stage.