Fair play: strengthening integrity and transparency in cricket

Fair play: strengthening integrity and transparency in cricket

This week the cricketing world will turn its attention to Brisbane and the start of the Ashes series when England takes on Australia. This compelling competition should end the cricketing year on a high note of excellence and excitement. But 2013 also brought its share of cricketing scandals, both on and off the pitch, which need to be addressed if cricket is to continue its proud tradition as a by-word for fair play.

Cover of Fair Play booklet

In the past two years cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), has commissioned two separate reports into anti-corruption and governance in cricket. Both produced a series of reform recommendations but to the outside world the ICC has done little to follow up and no progress reports have been published.

Building on these reports, Transparency International is publishing its own recommendations, Fair Play: strengthening integrity and transparency in cricket. We believe the ICC should undertake a series of governance reforms immediately to maintain cricket’s reputation and strengthen its leadership role in the future.

Cricket has a proud tradition as a by-word for fair play. To keep that reputation the International Cricket Council must start to implement reforms that will strengthen transparency in cricket and address the many corruption risks that threaten the game"

– Deryck Murray, former cricketer and chair of Trinidad & Tobago Transparency Institute

This issue is important because of the positive role that sport can play in the lives of billions of people. Poor governance and corruption in sport damage not only the image of the game, its federations and representatives, but they compromise sport’s ability to spread the value of fair play and integrity. The immense outpouring of thanks, affection and media attention from around the world for Sachin Tendulkar, the India cricket legend on his retirement, is a clear indication of the powerful effect of positive role models.

A time for reform

Cricket players image

Cricket is now played in more than 90 countries and has a huge and devoted following among young and old alike in some of the world’s most populous nations, including India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. We believe the ICC can play an invaluable role in promoting the values of good governance and integrity in all cricketing countries, but to do that it must strengthen its own standards.

Transparency International’s key recommendations to the ICC are directly linked to making the organisation more transparent and accountable:

Cricket is now big business and it is incumbent on those who administer the game, both at the international and national level, to adhere to the highest standards of good business practice.

Transparency International, with its 20 years of experience promoting anti-corruption in the public and private sectors, believes that it is now time for sport and those that run sport to take a leadership role in promoting good governance in sport. In 2011 we published a similar reform agenda for FIFA, world football’s governing body, Safe Hands: building integrity and transparency at FIFA.

Role of the ICC

Cricket, like so many sports, has grown in the past decade in both reach and commercial value. New broadcasting contracts, new independent leagues and high profile mega events have enriched the sport but have also created greater opportunities for corruption. In this light, we believe the ICC can and should play a leadership role by adopting good business practices itself and requiring the domestic cricket boards to follow suit.

The 10 full members of the ICC, representing the top cricketing nations, hold great power over the direction of the game. Certain countries, including India, England and Australia, appear to dominate the decision-making. Nevertheless, the ICC has the wider responsibility to “administer, develop, co-ordinate, regulate and promote the game of cricket world-wide” and as such can set the professional standards for the global game.

Our report highlights key areas where a strong tone at the top could influence the road to reform at domestic cricket boards that are struggling to maintain the kind of integrity and high standards that should exemplify all those involved in cricket.

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