Bishop & Sewell

Cricket was long been regarded as a ‘gentlemen’s’ sport, but over the years, the rise of corruption has cast a shadow on its integrity. To preserve the essence of fair play, the English Cricket Board (ECB) has been unwavering in its commitment to rooting out corruption from the professional game. By implementing robust measures and promoting transparency, the ECB has taken significant strides towards maintaining the sanctity of cricket, writes David Little, a Partner in our Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.

Here’s how the ECB is tackling corruption head-on. The first step taken by the ECB to tackle corruption in cricket was the implementation of a comprehensive Anti-Corruption Code. This code sets out clear guidelines and regulations for players, coaches, officials, and administrators, emphasizing their responsibility to maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in the game.

To ensure that all stakeholders are well-informed about the code, the ECB conducts educational workshops and seminars regularly. These sessions educate players about the potential pitfalls of corruption, how it can manifest in the game, and the severe consequences that follow any involvement.

The ECB established an independent Anti-Corruption Unit to oversee the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Code. The ACU operates discreetly and conducts thorough investigations into any reported or suspected cases of corruption in English cricket.

One significant example of the ACU’s impact is the investigation into a domestic match-fixing incident. In 2018, the ACU received a tip-off regarding suspicious activities in a lower-tier professional cricket game. Prompt action was taken, and the ACU conducted a rigorous investigation that eventually led to the identification and conviction of players involved in match-fixing. The ECB’s commitment to justice was evident as they handed out severe sanctions, which included lengthy bans and hefty fines.

Recognising the seriousness of corruption in cricket, the ECB collaborates closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure that criminals attempting to infiltrate the game are brought to justice. This collaboration not only helps gather crucial evidence against those involved in corrupt practices but also serves as a deterrent to potential wrongdoers.

One noteworthy instance of such cooperation was the “Operation Baltazar” investigation, a joint effort between the ECB’s ACU and law enforcement agencies. This operation targeted an international match-fixing syndicate that was attempting to influence English county matches. Through meticulous surveillance and intelligence sharing, several individuals were arrested and successfully prosecuted, safeguarding the integrity of the game.

The vital role that whistleblowers play in exposing corruption and safeguarding cricket’s integrity has been essential. However, to encourage individuals to come forward with information, the board ensures that appropriate measures are in place to protect whistleblowers’ identities and provide them with the necessary support during investigations.

In one instance, a former player anonymously tipped off the ACU about an approach from a corrupt individual seeking insider information. The ECB took immediate action, initiating an investigation and implementing protective measures. Thanks to the whistleblower’s cooperation, the corrupt individual was apprehended before any damage could be done to the game.

As cricket enthusiasts, players, or administrators, we all have a collective responsibility to support and applaud the ECB’s efforts to preserve the spirit of cricket and ensure a fair and clean game for generations to come. The fact that ‘corruption’ and ‘cricket’ rarely occur in the same sentence together suggest that the ECB’s efforts – at least in England – have helped maintain the essence of fair play, enabling the fireworks to take place on the pitch. Where they belong.


Contact our Sports Lawyer

David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB412 on either 07968 027343 or 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 25 July 2023. The information above may be subject to change. The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 25th Jul 2023

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