Rice: Cricket's 'wake up call'
Clive Rice (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Cricket needs an urgent "wake up call" as match-fixing allegations threaten the long-term future of the game, former South Africa captain Clive Rice said on Thursday.
In an interview with SNTV at his home in Johannesburg, Rice said cricket's shattered image could now affect its ability to make money from sponsorship.
"The reputation of having match-fixing in the game will chase sponsors away flat out because they don't want to be associated with it," Rice said. "There are lots of other sports they can participate in.
"The whole revenue stream shrinks dramatically if this match-fixing is not put to bed very fast and with the intention of letting the players know: you do not get involved."
Rice claimed he had been approached to fix matches when he was a selector for the South African national team. He said he gave all the information he had to the International Cricket Council.
"I couldn't believe what I was hearing, as to what was going on," Rice said, adding he was reluctant to say too much publicly because of fear for his own safety.
"I can't give you too many details. I've given all that information to the ICC detectives, probably two years ago or three years ago, I forget. It's best it stay in their hands than out in the public eye. But they know exactly the manner in how it all happened, where it happened."
Rice was speaking in the wake of a scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team, three of whom have been questioned by police and suspended by the ICC after they were alleged by a British newspaper to have received money in return for bowling deliberate no-balls in the Lord's test against England.
The 61-year-old Rice was a close friend of former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, who Rice suspects was killed because he may have had knowledge of match-fixing.
Woolmer was found dead in a hotel room in Jamaica on March 18, 2007 during the World Cup. In November of that year, a jury in Jamaica recorded an "open verdict" in Woolmer's death after it was initially treated as murder, then as natural causes.
Woolmer's widow has said recently she does not believe her husband's death had anything to do with match-fixing, but Rice is not so sure.
"It got all covered up," Rice said. "On the same day (as Woolmer's death) Pakistan had just lost to Ireland in the World Cup, and you say 'well, had Bob found something out' because clearly if it's carrying on now and it was going on then ... Had he found something out? I'm pretty sure he had."
Rice said he thought Woolmer was "taken out" because he was about to reveal details of corruption in cricket. He feels the same way about disgraced former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje.
Cronje admitted forecasting results and was banned for life in 2000, then died in a plane crash two years later.
South Africa's High Court ruled the cause of the crash was error on the part of the two pilots, who were also killed, but again, Rice raised doubts over the verdict.
"Hansie, what did he know?" Rice said Thursday. "Was he going to reveal, maybe in a book, the truth behind what was involved?"
When asked if he felt the deaths of Woolmer and Cronje were linked to match-fixing, Rice said "Absolutely."
"I'll question those deaths until the day I die because I don't believe the truth has come out."