ICC Chief Executive David Richardson believes that there has been no stone left unturned as preparations continue ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, but stressed the need for players to remember their responsibilities to uphold the sport’s integrity at all times.
In an exclusive TV interview with the ICC, the former South Africa wicket-keeper also shared his views and hopes ahead of the sport’s pinnacle 50-over tournament, having worked in the role of ICC General Manager – Cricket in each of the previous three tournaments (2003, 2007 and 2011).
In a candid and wide-ranging interview, Richardson, who featured in the Protease squad that reached the semi-finals of the competition the last time the event was staged by Australia and New Zealand, in 1992, believes that this will be the best World Cup to date.
And on the eve of the 11th edition of the tournament, Richardson has also strongly reinforced the ICC’s expectations on player behaviour and maintaining the game’s integrity at all times, on and off the field of play.
“Over the last six months, or even going back further to the last Ashes series, there have been too many examples of player behaviour going too far and overstepping the boundaries of acceptabilities. The amount of sledging and disrespect shown by players to each other was bad. Since then, we have done a lot of work with our Umpires and Match Referees to ensure that they are much more pro-active in terms of policing behaviour on the field and when players do over-step the mark, taking appropriate action.
“Over the last three or four months you have seen 12 ICC Code of Conduct charges laid against people for exactly that; disrespectful behaviour on the field. For the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, it will be no different and at all pre-event briefings with the teams, the Match Referees will be making sure that that message is delivered loud and clear.”
In outlining the ICC’s recent worldwide clampdown in dealing with suspected illegal bowling actions, Richardson also outlined the ICC’s position for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
“We want to make sure that we don’t lose ground on what I think has been significant progress over the last few months,” he said. “The game realised that we had a significant problem and there were just too many bowlers, from all teams, bowling with suspected actions. So, I think we have made very good progress in identifying those bowlers, sending them off to be tested and, where necessary, suspending them until they can remedy their actions.
“There might be one or two (bowlers) who were suspended and who are now coming back into international cricket and the challenge for them will be to make sure that they maintain their remedied action. The instructions to the Match Officials will be no different and these matches will be treated exactly the same as any other international match. And if there are bowlers who are bowling with suspect actions, they might be reported,” he continued.
“The ICC-accredited testing centre in Brisbane is on stand-by so that if somebody is reported early on in the tournament, he can go straight off to Brisbane, get tested within five or six days, and we can have the report so that he can either continue bowling if he’s found to be legal, or if he’s illegal, then he will be suspended.”
With corruption and match-fixing spectres that loom over world sport, Richardson has credited the work of the local agencies, as well as the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), and he believes that the ICC is well-equipped to deal with these threats.
“On the corruption side, it’s safe to say we’re the best prepared we’ve ever been. Our Anti-Corruption personnel have done a lot of work in entering into agreements, associations and arrangements with the local police and law enforcement agencies in both New Zealand and Australia.
“As the years have gone by,” he continued, “Our intelligence and information on who these corruptors are, and who may try and fix matches around the world, has grown. We know exactly where these people are and we have got a list of more than a hundred names that we will be passing on to these law enforcement agencies. It will be very difficult for anybody outside of the game to come and even attempt to try and corrupt players, umpires or anybody involved in the World Cup, to try and fix a match.
“In addition, the New Zealand and Australia governments have introduced specific legislation which makes attempting to fix, or fixing matches, a criminal offence. This enables, not only us (ICC ACSU) but the police themselves to take much more specific and direct action against these people who are trying to corrupt the game.”