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  #1  
Old April 2, 2015, 05:29 AM
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Default Pont speaks of struggle after corruption sting - Cricinfo

Ian Pont has spoken out in detail for the first time about his courageous part in an anti-corruption sting operation designed to catch match-fixers in the act, but which has resulted in him facing a long and disturbing struggle to protect his reputation.

Pont, who is currently running a pace foundation in India, has lost job offers and endured whispers about his honesty since reporting attempts to fix a match in the Bangladesh Premier League and then working closely with ACU officers to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Now he fears his involvement could have damaging consequences for the rest of his career. "I am a professional cricket coach and I'm 53 years old," he said. "I need to work. I can't allow my reputation to be tainted when everything I've done has been for the best of intentions and for the good of cricket."

His compelling evidence - evidence that includes audio recordings of individuals detailing exactly how matches would be fixed - was largely disregarded by a tribunal in Bangladesh because they erroneously - and almost inexplicably - concluded that salary paid to him during the sting operation was somehow associated with match-fixing.

The money was part of his agreed salary from Dhaka Gladiators in the 2013 BPL tournament and he was cleared, by the ICC's ACSU, to keep it. His version of events has been corroborated by the ICC, with the chief executive, Dave Richardson, writing to him to state that cricket would benefit from "more men of your integrity" and that he should be "highly commended".

But the fallout from the tribunal set-up by the BPL into the ACSU investigation still remains after it concluded that it was "disturbing" that Pont had kept the money and that this rendered his evidence unreliable.

Pont had stayed silent until now in the hope that the ICC might successfully appeal what they regarded as a bungled verdict of the BPL tribunal. But he has now chosen to speak to ESPNcricinfo in a bid to clear his name. ESPNcricinfo has, for legal reasons, chosen not to name the majority of the players implicated in Pont's testimony.

"It all started on February 1 2013 when Jishan Chowdury, one of the owners of the Dhaka franchise, and one other man came to my room in the evening," Pont said. "We had just won our fifth game out of six and we were top of the BPL table. Jishan then told me they wanted to fix the game against Chittagong Kings the following day. He had a piece of paper with specific details of what should happen at various stages of the match and it was clear he wanted to fix the result, not just an isolated passage of play.

"My initial response was 'I want to go home'. My head was spinning and, from the way they were talking, it seemed other people were involved. They wanted the normal captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, replaced for the game with Mohammad Ashraful as they knew that Mashrafe would have no part in any corruption. He had already reported a previous approach and gone public in the media, too. So they wanted him out of the side.

"They also wanted to bring two new bowlers into the side - bowlers they knew would help them - and they wanted to bring one other batsman in on the plan. I know they approached Owais Shah, who reported the approach, and Darren Stevens, who was very upset by it and told me before the game that he wanted nothing to do with it.

"I phoned my wife and told her I wanted to come home. We talked it through and she said she would support my decision to report the approach the next morning and then leave the tournament. I was concerned how I withdrew without the news coming out and overshadowing the entire BPL season.

"I reported the approach the next morning. I was staying in the same hotel as Peter O'Shea, one of the ACSU's officers, and asked to talk to him over breakfast. I told him the whole thing and said I just wanted to get on the next flight home. He was very good. He reassured me that I had done the right thing and he told me that he would drive me to the airport that morning if I liked. But then he said, 'If you really want to help us catch these people, if you want to make sure that they never do this again, then you'll stay and help us collect evidence against them.'

So Pont agreed to take part in a sting operation. Having always had something of a reputation as a maverick - he started his playing career as a batsman, became a fast bowler and, having set the second longest throw of a cricket ball ever recorded, crossed over into baseball - he had never feared the unconventional.

"I agreed to allow them to bug my room," he said. "Straight after breakfast, they placed a pen-sized video device in the hotel directory on my desk and an audio device in a drawer. I also recorded the audio on my laptop and put loads of papers on my bed so it appeared I was working and I invited Jishan Chowdury back to my room.

"I asked him to run through the plans again. He did so, in detail, including telling me which players were in on the plan and what they were expected to do. He thought five players would help him. He also told me that Chittagong were not involved in the fix. As soon as he left the room, I phoned Peter O'Shea and arranged to give him the evidence. I was, by then, desperate to go home. It seemed impossible to carry on coaching a side that contained players I knew to be corrupt and I didn't think it was possible that I would be able to concentrate on cricket."


By then, Pont says he was terrified by the potential consequences. The death of Bob Woolmer, when Pakistan coach, during the 2007 World Cup has always hung heavily over the game. A jury in Jamaica eventually returned an open verdict as experts argued over whether he had died from natural causes - he suffered from an enlarged heart and diabetes - or whether he had been murdered by organised crime groups involved in cricket corruption.

"I kept thinking about Bob Woolmer. Who knows what happened to him that day in Jamaica?" Pont said. "All I did know was, the more I thought about it, the more I was terrified it would emerge that I had tricked these people and I started to fear the consequences. Yes, I was scared. In the end, I spoke to Peter and decided that, for the long-term good of cricket, really, I should stick to the plan and stay in Bangladesh to see it through.

"I was offered money for my involvement. Jishan offered me $6,000, but I said I didn't want it. I told him I just wanted my salary. I told him that the second instalment in my contract - $10,000 - was overdue anyway and I'd be happy just to have that. He told me not to worry about it and said I'd be paid in a few days. The audio evidence - evidence submitted to the tribunal - makes it crystal clear that I said I just wanted my salary to be paid as agreed before the tournament."

The Bangladesh tribunal later made strong criticism of the ACSU's decision to allow a BPL game to go ahead even though they had strong suspicions that fixing would occur in it. As a result, the tribunal came to the conclusion that the entire sting operation was flawed and to Pont's dismay has largely disregarded its findings.

"When we got to the ground it was packed," he said. "The capacity was meant to be 35,000 but, because there was a batch of forged tickets, there were 47,000 people in the ground. I don't think the ACSU have the authority to stop a game even if they wanted to but, had they tried to do so at that stage, there would have been a riot."

To ensure the sting went ahead, Pont had to brazen out some anger from Mortaza, who Pont believes suspected the worst when he was left out of the side. "I was given a report which told me that Mashrafe couldn't play because of his knee - which was possible, as he had a chronic knee condition - but he was furious when I told him. He kicked some water bottles away and I suspected he realised what was happening."

Gladiators also left out Chris Liddle, a little-known Sussex pace bowler, to allow space for some of the bowlers who knew of the fixing plans. "The game was ridiculous. There were some obvious extras, a ridiculous full toss and then we batted appallingly. Ashraful opened the batting and lasted into the 19th over, scoring 33. I remember one of the Chittagong players said 'you could have made it less obvious' as we shook hands at the end.

"I was furious. I also felt conflicted because I knew I had been a part of a game that was an insult to the watching spectators. I didn't lose sight of the long-term benefits - if we wanted to rid the game of these people, we had to accumulate evidence against them - but at that moment, I just wanted to get away. I refused to go to the post-match press conference and went back to the hotel.

"A couple of days later all of us - the whole playing squad and the coaches - were given an envelope containing some money. That wasn't unexpected: they owed me $10,000 in salary payments. But I opened it to find it contained just $6,000 which worried me as it was the amount they mentioned. I called Peter immediately and he said 'keep it; that's your salary, we're not going to take that off you, they still owe you $4,000.' They never did pay the remaining $4,000. Peter said that, as I was expecting my salary, and as long as I didn't take a dollar more than was contractually obliged, it was ok.

"But when the tribunal started I had new fears. One of the judges kept saying 'the game shouldn't have gone ahead' and said all evidence after I reported the approach would be disregarded. So in the end they cleared nearly everyone involved. They even cleared someone who approached a player who had pleaded guilty to not reporting an approach. How can that happen?

"To make matters worse, they've produced a report which I feel questions my integrity. They have said that I kept a bung and couldn't explain why. And they have said that, because I couldn't explain why I took the money, it made my evidence unreliable. So they have disregarded rock solid evidence against people we know are involved in match fixing.

"It's just not right. I asked the ACSU if I should keep the money and the, knowing that I hadn't been paid - I still haven't been paid in full - told me that I should. It was my salary. To disregard my evidence because I accepted it seems perverse and makes me extremely angry."

Full Story here
http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/...ry/858011.html

Well that clears everything up..
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  #2  
Old April 2, 2015, 05:59 AM
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Will BPL Recover from this ......
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Old April 2, 2015, 06:13 AM
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I am not sure whether there will ever be a BPL 3, but if there is i hope BCB pays a bit more attention to the owners. Such greedy, corrupt people with no passion for the game should never be involved with Bangladeshi cricket at any level.

Will BCB have the sponsors, money to run such an event?

Even if they have to reduce the packaging the entertainment, foreign superstars, let them run it basically just the way they did it in 2010 with NCL T20.

Its unfortunate what Ian Pont has had to go through though. Just hope foreign individuals like him (Who actually care about our cricket) never have to meet/work with owners, stakeholders like the Dhaka Gladiators chief.
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Old April 2, 2015, 06:29 AM
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Just look at the timing of this news - Kamal threats to expose ICC corruption, Pont/ICC publishes report on Bangladeshi corruption!
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  #5  
Old April 2, 2015, 06:54 AM
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A real shame tbh. I loved the exposure the BPL gave the Associate game, even so far as picking a Danish player in Freddie Klokker. Sad to see how what was my favourite t20 league got corrupted and destroyed from the inside. Hope it manages to recover from this as a clean league
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Old April 2, 2015, 08:43 AM
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Starting BPL with a big bang ( more bang than its financially sustainable) was the mistake. They should have started with smaller budget and sticker law and enforcement of the law. They should not start the 2nd BPL without getting rid of all violators. They should have strict upper limit how much team pay (or agree to pay) a player. They should have enforce the team to pay their dues before starting 2nd BPL. Anyone involved with match fixing should have been jailed, law need to be modified to do that.

Yes its too bad that BPL is stuck in nowhere.
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  #7  
Old April 2, 2015, 08:49 AM
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Thank you for your courage and patience. I would have left and said, "to hell with it."

Since you have gone public, I just have couple of questions. You mentioned, From the cricinfo article

"It all started on February 1 2013 when Jishan Chowdury, one of the owners of the Dhaka franchise, and one other man came to my room in the evening," --- Do you remember the name of that man? Is he related to cricket?

The timing of the article is puzzling. Since M Kamal talked about ICC corruption, is this part of the backlash?

I never believed the BCB tribunals finding to begin with. That Mashrafe reaction (kicking bottle) was very reassuring. I can't believe we still have Ashraful fans and they are hoping he comes back. More over, there are BCB officials who are in the same boat.
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:02 AM
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I feel bad for Ian. An international coach should not have to deal with such blatant cheating and fixing. BPL was a fiasco and put together too hurriedly without any real policy and corruption control.

All the best wishes to Ian. I hope he gets his coaching career back on track.
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kana-Baba
Just look at the timing of this news - Kamal threats to expose ICC corruption, Pont/ICC publishes report on Bangladeshi corruption!
Kamal already backtracked.
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by horizon
Kamal already backtracked.

yes... he even said in his resignation that he has no complain against anybody in ICC... he resigned for personal reason...."ora amake mereche... ora amake gola dhakka mere ber kore diyeche.. kintu ora amake opomaan korte pareni"
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Old April 2, 2015, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigers_eye
is this part of the backlash?
The empire strikes back??
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Old April 2, 2015, 05:06 PM
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You cannot use conspiracy theories to undermine the reality. let's keep the two things separate. I feel embarrassed that the investigation was such a sham, except owner and Ashraful everybody went scott free.
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:16 PM
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"I agreed to allow them to bug my room," he said. "Straight after breakfast, they placed a pen-sized video device in the hotel directory on my desk and an audio device in a drawer. I also recorded the audio on my laptop and put loads of papers on my bed so it appeared I was working and I invited Jishan Chowdury back to my room.

"I asked him to run through the plans again. He did so, in detail, including telling me which players were in on the plan and what they were expected to do. He thought five players would help him. He also told me that Chittagong were not involved in the fix. As soon as he left the room, I phoned Peter O'Shea and arranged to give him the evidence. I was, by then, desperate to go home. It seemed impossible to carry on coaching a side that contained players I knew to be corrupt and I didn't think it was possible that I would be able to concentrate on cricket."

"When we got to the ground it was packed," he said. "The capacity was meant to be 35,000 but, because there was a batch of forged tickets, there were 47,000 people in the ground. I don't think the ACSU have the authority to stop a game even if they wanted to but, had they tried to do so at that stage, there would have been a riot."


In no way I am denying the fact that corruption took place in BPL but after reading the above paragraphs my question is why there was no effort to the stop the game straight after Pont recorded Jishan Chowdhury's conversation with him? He said it was just after breakfast. I would assume that was early in the morning. Did ACSU let the BCB president know about the finsings straight away. He could have taken measures to stop the game immediately before the stadium was full with 47,000 people.

Also, even after all these Pont repeatedly advertised himself on social media citing the achievements of Dhaka Gladiators in BPL him being the head coach. I mean how are we to be sure that the result of the whole tournament wasn't fixed? If one match could go ahead after fixing the same could happen to other matches as well.

Also, the sheer timing of the report raises a question. I was not even for once supporting Kamal in the whole saga recently but the question is why now. Pont had plenty of time after BPL tribunal verdict to come out in the media and clear himself but his mate George Dobell decided to publish it when he loses his job and that too as the top headline of cricinfo? When was Pont that big of a name and BPL that big of a tournent?
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:16 PM
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probably had political connections ... And yeah let's give the conspiracy theory a rest. If what Ian describes happened then I'm ashamed.
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Old April 2, 2015, 09:36 PM
5tonne 5tonne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RazabQ
probably had political connections ... And yeah let's give the conspiracy theory a rest. If what Ian describes happened then I'm ashamed.
This post is full of contradiction. In the first sentence you are saying, "probably had political connections". Then you are saying, "let's give the conspiracy theory a rest". And to contradict this sentence you are saying, " IF what Ian describes happened..." which implies you are not sure what Pont said is true.
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Old April 3, 2015, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5tonne
[]
In no way I am denying the fact that corruption took place in BPL but after reading the above paragraphs my question is why there was no effort to the stop the game straight after Pont recorded Jishan Chowdhury's conversation with him? He said it was just after breakfast. I would assume that was early in the morning. Did ACSU let the BCB president know about the finsings straight away. He could have taken measures to stop the game immediately before the stadium was full with 47,000 people.

Also, even after all these Pont repeatedly advertised himself on social media citing the achievements of Dhaka Gladiators in BPL him being the head coach. I mean how are we to be sure that the result of the whole tournament wasn't fixed? If one match could go ahead after fixing the same could happen to other matches as well.

Also, the sheer timing of the report raises a question. I was not even for once supporting Kamal in the whole saga recently but the question is why now. Pont had plenty of time after BPL tribunal verdict to come out in the media and clear himself but his mate George Dobell decided to publish it when he loses his job and that too as the top headline of cricinfo? When was Pont that big of a name and BPL that big of a tournent?
Still the conspiracy theories continue despite the facts.

1. ACSU have no jurisdiction to stop a match
2. Information gathered is not the same as EVIDENCE until the fix or attempt to fix, takes place. It's only AFTER monitoring the game can you know if a fix occurs
3. The timing is because there is no cricket news. All WC over and a pretty slow story time/ Also I was not allowed to say anything until it's clear the ICC are not pursuing the case further.
4. Hard to win a tournament if your team is trying to lose games! Impossible to fix an entire tournament without a mass of people being involved and knowing
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Old April 3, 2015, 09:14 AM
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Thanks Ian Pont for posting an explanation. I am increasingly convinced that proof lies in the mind of spectator. So, in the era of doctored DRS, unexpected will breed conspiracy theories. You'll have very limited capacity to fight them as there will always be gaps.
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