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Agent regulation is a good step forward

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Alison Mitchell | 19:00 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)'s announcement in the wake of the spot fixing scandal that they intend to create a register of agents, has to be welcomed.

The move has been prompted by the alleged involvement of agent Mazhar Majeed in the scandal engulfing Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir, with the PCB stating that every player under its auspices will have to register their agent with the board for approval, or be ineligible to play.

Majeed, agent to Butt, was arrested following the News of the World sting, where it was claimed he arranged for Asif and Amir to bowl deliberate no-balls during last month's Test against England at Lord's. Majeed was later released on bail without charge, while Asif, Amir and Butt have been provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) pending the police investigation.

A lack of regulation around agents on the subcontinent means there has never been a way of keeping track on who is getting involved in the game. Anybody is able to claim that they represent a player. Indeed, anyone can approach a player with an offer of representation and the player has very little assistance in checking the credentials and credibility of that individual.

Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif

Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif recently returned to Pakistan. Picture: PA

It may surprise many cricket fans that there has never been a formal register of agents in England either.

In football, if a club or player wants to deal with an agent, that agent must first be registered with the Football Association. In cricket, the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) has always operated a voluntary registration system, but that is set to change.

BBC Sport understands that from 1 January 2011, anyone wishing to act as an agent to a cricketer in England and Wales will have to be registered with the PCA first. They will have to satisfy various requirements along the lines of a 'fit and proper persons' test, with checks carried out at Companies House.

The PCA will write to all agents known to them, instructing those currently registered to re-register, and those not already registered to do so.

Details of the new regulations were being hammered out in a meeting between the PCA and ECB at Lord's this week, and while it is understood that their plan has been in the offing for some time and is not a response to the allegations surrounding Majeed, it will in its own way play a small part in helping to police the game simply by keeping a record of who is involved in it.

So why are the PCA and ECB bringing in these regulations? Many agents or management companies who work in cricket have been around for years, are well known to the PCA and are widely respected in the game, particularly those involved with England players. However the appeal of the England team, the introduction of Twenty20 cricket and the advent of the Indian Premier League in particular, means cricket is now seen as a sport in which substantial money can be made. It is therefore attracting many more people keen to have a slice of it.

A senior source at the PCA told me that a number of agents primarily involved in football have been in touch asking how they can get involved with cricketers. This is not to suggest that football agents would be unwelcome in any way, just an example of how interest in the commercial side of the game has increased, meaning it has become harder for the PCA to keep track of who players are dealing with - their primary concern being the protection of the player.

Which brings me back to Pakistan, where there is no players' association whatsoever.

In England and Wales for example, it is the PCA who take on the prime responsibility for driving home the anti-corruption education programme among county players. Who takes responsibility for it in Pakistan? It is down to the PCB, who have spent much of their recent time either implementing bans or imposing fines for various fall-outs or bust-ups.

When asked about it during the Twenty20 internationals in Cardiff, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi insisted the team had all had the proper anti-corruption education. However if it comes to light that the implementation of anti-corruption education has been sub-standard across the country, it should come as no surprise. How can one board effectively carry out all the duties that both a governing body and a players' union are responsible for elsewhere?

When Lalit Modi was in charge of the Indian Premier League he robustly stated that he didn't recognise players' unions, not even Fica, the international players' association. Until those attitudes change there is little hope for players in either India or Pakistan having their own representative bodies.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Looks like first hint of piercing of the denial mode and acknowledging by pcb that there has been match fixing.

  • Comment number 4.

    Certainly the current fiasco calls for much intense monitoring and 'education'.But in my opinion the ICC bears the responsibility too.Pcb for more than a decade a half has been led by grossly incompetent people and the ICC should nt have relied on the subcontinental boards alone to eradicate this menace.

  • Comment number 5.

    the problem involves not just players! the pcb and the team needs to be scrapped. when musharaf was in power he brought in a new pay scheme. higher salaries and bonuses for the team and individuals doing well. it's all scrapped and the salary is now £25k. the aussies along with england are approx £50-60k and the indians are on £90k plus.
    hell i'd throw a few no balls to get to that salary. bankers, politicians, anyone will do whatever they can to get more money.
    i travel all around the world to watch pakistan play, and i still condemn what they have done........but see it from there point of view.

  • Comment number 6.

    I don't know if this is the the best way to rid the game of corruption: I've only ever followed cricket, not "cricket committees." Nevertheless I agree with Fundamentalist (@ 4) that something needs to be done - and pronto! The second half of this 2010 season has been been spoiled disgracefully.

    I can't help feeling that cheats & fixers will always find a way, no matter what measures are taken, and I'm too long in the tooth to hope for a renewed "spirit of cricket" as we always used to think of it. The zeitgeist has moved on and now seems to be saying "get rich quick," no matter the means. I might deplore that, but I won't change it. - My feeling is that the malaise is in society at large and my guess is that the sociologists will soon be out in force - if they are not out in force already. Perhaps an edition of "Thinking Allowed" should be devoted to it.

  • Comment number 7.

    Sadly, I have to agree with FleetJackHobbs above. Whilst the move by the PCB and the ECB is to be applauded as a step in the right direction the reality is that corruption appears to be endemic in Pakistan, a view that is certainly held by the few Pakistanis that I know who were actually surprised at the scale of the outrage over the recent controversy. The big question is whether the PCB can be trusted to implement and maintain a registration process designed to ensure the integrity of those who sign up. I'm afraid that I'm sceptical on this matter.

  • Comment number 8.

    Finally PCB are doing something to try to stop this match fixing
    This should have happened a lot earlier!
    I wonder how long ICC will take to conclude this spot-fixing investigation?
    ICC need to take action now rather than later!

  • Comment number 9.

    Even though I am not a fan of the PCB or Mr Butt. He has said the right thing. Can you imagine if Pakistan lost 5 wkts for 17 runs, the words match fixing would be on everyone's lips.

    There is a lot of pressure on the pakistani team and the sooner they get out of england the better.

    Also i find it very interesting that these allegations seem to come out when the pak team is playing well or winning. The sun newspaper has never liked the pak cricket team, I remember they were the ones who started the ball tampering accausations against wasim and waqer when we won in england. The allegations came the day the pakisatni left the country.


    I am not saying that all what is lies, but a proper and fair investgations needs to happen.

  • Comment number 10.

    Sorry to go off-topic on your blog Alison but they have been so quite recently I can't find somewhere more apprioprate to put this message.

    Well done to you, Kevin Howells, Kevin Hand and Vic Marks for the excellent coverage last week of the climax to the counnty championship. The Sportsextra coverage was excellent and I hope that similar can occur in the future provided that the championship could be won by a couple or more teams going into the last round.

  • Comment number 11.

    Re corruption in cricket. Why do we believe News of the World and Sun journalists. They are employed to sell newspapers. I suggest that when Jonathan Agnew interviews these journalists he really interogates them. Find out if money was paid for the information etc. Just because they are journalists does not mean they tell the whole truth!

  • Comment number 12.

    Pakistan were class! just got one line for you WHO ARE YA?????? accusing one team and metally taring them and two of the worlds best bowlers but when accused themselves ENGLAND CRUMBLED like a pie. Its not nice to make accustions do it on the pitch with the scoreboard not with the media Pakistan deserved to beat England and Fair play to them

  • Comment number 13.

    I think the ECB & ICC should apologie to all the cricket fans in the world for the mess they have made

  • Comment number 14.

    Re comment number 9, that these accusations against Pakistan seem to surface when the Pakistan team is winning, in fact the accusations of spot fixing materialised when the Pakistan team was losing almost every game. They've only started playing really well - and winning - in the past week.

    On the broader issue, the ICC must either run world cricket or not. They started off by turning a blind eye to the endemic corruption around world cricket, then, when the News Of The World revealed a very good case for investigation, dithered and left it to the UK police, and then, when a very tenuous accusation about 'unusual patterns' emerged, completely over-reacted. The ICC must get a grip on this before it all descends into anarchy. Whatever the rights and wrongs, it's the ICC who should be the loudest voices on this issue, not the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, or the Chairman of the ECB for that matter. In the end, too, we should remember that this is not an argument between the England and Pakistan cricket teams. Although you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was, if you listen to some of these over-excited voices ...

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's a disgrace. It's all a disgrace. Cricketers cheating, Priests abusing, Japanese centenarians pretending to be alive, Commonwealth Games accommodation unfit for habitation, boxers snorting...where will it all end? It's just all a disgrace.

    I am disgusted.

    L A Odicean

  • Comment number 17.

    Suspending or banning individual players is no solution to this creeping malaise which threatens the future of cricket as we know and love it. What was once the definition of fair play and sportsmanship has become little more than a market place where certain players will sell themselves to the highest bidder. There are enough properly organised and regulated cricket playing countries where corruption is not endemic to enable world cricket to isolate those nations where fixing is a way of life. Cricket did not grind to a halt when South Africa were isolated and it would not do so if Pakistan were banned from world cricket until it can prove that its players are not suseptible to opportunities to dishonestly affect the result of game or the happening of certain events to order.

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't know if anyone else has commented about this but shouldn't the ICC take a dim view of the fact that Ijaz Butt seems to know what is being said in 'bookie circles'? If I was the head of any of the worlds Cricket Boards I would be distancing myself from these (illegal) bookmakers, especially in light of this summers controversies.

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    It's wrong to think that keeping a tab on agents will solve this issue. I recently read this brilliant piece by veteran cricket writer Trevor Chesterfield. I think you should give this a read, you will then realise the ICC is the root cause of the problem.Read the following:[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 21.

    Anything that stops any sport going down the road ofsoccer is a good thing.

  • Comment number 22.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    If we didn't know better we'd swear the Pakistan squad were probably paid to bowl full tosses for last 5 overs against NZ today... unbelievable hammering!

    I agree with FrancisJ (#20) - I think keeping tabs on agents will not fully resolve the situation.. it will help though.

    Sizwe

  • Comment number 28.

    Just read this funny conspiracy theory article on the Cricket World Cup and how "dodgy bookies" may be targeting the commentators now instead of the players. Apparantly the cricket commentators curse may be an asset to someone after all!

    On a serious note, I doubt that regulating the agents will make a huge impact on corruption. One can only hope that players getting paid more with the success of IPL etc means they would be less susceptible to corruption.

  • Comment number 29.

    I played cricket many times. This sport is very enjoyable. I live in Turkey now. I only watch cricket now. There isn't any pitch in here. I was in India for our cancer society two years ago. We playes cricket in India and after this I liked cricket and I still like it. I am planning to go to Pakistan when I retired. And I will play cricket as an amateur on my retirement.

 

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