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Boards try to save fixers: Gray
- Outgoing ICC president admits there is a colour divide which hampers the game’s progress

Sydney: International Cricket Council’s (ICC) outgoing president Malcolm Gray has hinted that some cricket boards tried to protect their national heroes in the match-fixing scandal as a result of which not many culprits were caught.

In an interview to The Age Wednesday, Gray said that though ICC had been successful in suppressing match fixing, it had been frustrating not to catch more culprits.

“One of the disappointments is probably that we didn’t get more scalps... But it’s probably understandable because we and the Anti-Corruption Unit don’t have any legislative power. We cannot march into somebody’s house and carry out a search or we cannot arrest people. So we can only do it by investigation and by persuasion,” Gray, who relinquishes his office Thursday after a three-year term, said.

“The other reason is that there is a tendency to protect the sporting hero, and that the fans, the public and I think some of the authorities tend to do so as well,” he said.

Gray, who will hand over the reins to Pakistan’s Ehsan Mani, said the crackdown on match fixing was one of the highlights of his tenure but felt it was now time to “draw a line in the sand” and move on from the matter as it would not be worth trying to go back and find more culprits.

Talking about the growing divide in ICC along racial lines, Gray said part of the problem lay in deep-rooted beliefs stemming from historical conflicts. “It is human nature for people to flock together and grow a colour mentality... One thing I’ve learned in this job is just how racist people are. I didn’t realise everybody was as racist as they are,” he said.

He said the decision of England and New Zealand not to play their respective World Cup matches in Zimbabwe and Kenya earlier this year had the potential to further widen the gulf but the ICC’s promptness in penalising England and New Zealand helped avert a disaster.

Gray criticised the British government of “hiding behind sports administrators” on the issue of playing in Zimbabwe. He said it was unfair on the government’s part to put pressure on the England and Wales Cricket Board to decide on “moral grounds”.

“Whenever politics is involved, not politics of the sport but national politics, it’s up to the governments to be decisive about it,” Gray said. “I believe that sporting bodies would then fall in line with the government. But politicians are clever and hide behind the sports administrators and that’s what the British government did.”

He, however, felt the threat of a split was not as big as it was made out to be and hoped that all the cricket-playing countries will realise that it was in their best interest not to aggravate the divide.

“It’s constantly brought up that there may be a split. I believe the real threat is not as high as people think...Ultimately, common sense will prevail and people will realise if there is a split the sport will be ruined, which ultimately will ruin their own patch, their own power, their own finances.”

Gray, a former chief of Australian Cricket Board (ACB), also said that cricket probably was historically ill-equipped to deal with modern-day challenges, particularly the handling of large amounts of money that the sport can generate. “One of the big dangers is that the sport does not necessarily have the ability to handle big amounts of money and I would say that of the ACB.

“I am more convinced than ever that the most significant issue still confronting international cricket is its own governance. I think there is a slow realisation that the governance has got to get better. But I think we’re slowly getting there,” Gray said. (PTI)

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