The Blog

Authorities must root out corruption in cricket

REMEMBER the News of the World? Just four months have passed since the paper was closed in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and already it has passed into media folklore. But now its ghost has been resurrected - this time for the right reasons.

In August 2010 reporters from the NOtW contacted Mazhar Majeed, a cricket agent, and covertly filmed him predicting that two Pakistan bowlers would deliver no-balls at specified times during the fourth test at Lord's.

Majeed, the two bowlers and their captain were convicted at Southwark Crown Court this week for conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

The Guardian's Owen Gibson believes the paper "was arguably the only organisation with the means and the modus operandi to snare the perpetrators of a fix of the type that had long been suspected but never proved."

It may have come too late for them to enjoy it but this is a major victory for the News of the World and a reminder of the power of the press. It takes skill, cunning and a fair bit of nerve to pose as an Indian businessman - as the paper's 'Fake Sheikh' Mazher Mahmood did - and to gather such vast and compelling evidence to help secure a criminal conviction.

A huge amount of money, time and resources would have been poured into the paper's operation, and it should be applauded for having the determination to see it through.

The upshot of the story - or at least this chapter, for there is surely more to come - is that three young cricketers have lost their way in the most dramatic fashion. As the court hearings came to an end former players such as Imran Khan and Michael Holding wrote emotional letters to the judge citing the players' talent and inexperience. But there can be very little sympathy at this stage.

The most worrying thing is that this incident is most likely just the tip of the iceberg. The Internatonal Cricket Council - which has proved to be toothless, bungling and incompetent at the best of times - must go beneath the surface and rid the game of this disease. Let's just hope that any young players whose heads may be turned in the future have been watching, listening and learning.