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Know thy law of cricket

  • Published at 06:04 pm October 31st, 2019
Shakib Al Hasan
Where did it go wrong? MUMIT M

What exactly was the law that Shakib al Hasan broke?

In the 1200s, the Magna Carta was enacted in England to curb the absolute power of the monarch. It was adopted after a rebellion by aristocrats who complained of a tyrannical monarchy. One of the surviving principles of the Magna Carta is access to justice. 

During the Glorious Revolution, the Bill of Rights was enacted in 1689 to strengthen the authority of, and, civil liberties within, the English parliament. It established principles such as the right to petition, fair treatment in the courts, freedom from state interference, and parliamentary approval of taxes.  

The growing powers of the parliament and the courts were eventually reflected in the separation of powers. The three branches of state kept a check on each other.

When the cricketers of Bangladesh went on strike in October 2019, their list of demands reflected a need for the separation of powers. 

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations noted the importance of keeping a players’ association independent from the governing body. The Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) should not have a leadership that concurrently serves in the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).

The integrity of the game

In recent years, ball-tampering and match-fixing have emerged as a grave threat to the integrity of global cricket. The game’s integrity was called into question during the Bangladesh Premier League. 

Interestingly, the striking Bangladeshi players called for domestic matches to use the same type of ball that is used in international matches. Was their demand linked to the integrity of the game? 

The BCB needs a stronger and pro-active anti-corruption department. It needs to be manned by capable personnel who understand the rules of international cricket law. 

Each national governing body has an anti-corruption wing that is subordinate to the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) of the International Cricket Council. 

The ACU wing in the BCB must be more pro-active.   

A right to appeal 

Bangladesh needs to be aware of sports law if it is to engage in international sport. In Spain, there are graduate schools that train students in sports management, with international sports law being a key subject. One of these schools is operated by the famed Spanish football club Real Madrid. 

Many governing bodies in the world of sport have recourse to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland. CAS is a competent tribunal in the field of international sports law.  

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has an Anti-Corruption Code which has provisions for disciplinary proceedings. 

Bangladesh skipper Shakib al Hasan was convicted for an offense under the code’s Article 2.4.4, which pertains to “failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code.”

A further note adds that “it is acknowledged that the fight against corruption requires prompt reporting of all such approaches and any unnecessary delay in doing so may undermine the effectiveness with which the ACU and other relevant anti-corruption bodies can protect the integrity of the sport. It is acknowledged that the assessment of whether there had been ‘unnecessary delay’ in each case will depend on its respective circumstances, but it is always unacceptable (and will, therefore, constitute ‘unnecessary delay’) for a Participant to wait until after the match in respect of which he/she was invited to engage in Corrupt Conduct before reporting that approach to the ACU.”  

Another note states that “a Participant shall not discharge his burden under this article unless and until the required disclosure has been made directly to the ACU by such Participant. It is not sufficient for such disclosure to be made instead to any other third party, including any player, club or team official, or National Cricket Federation representative.” 

It was therefore incumbent on Shakib Al Hassan to immediately report to the ACU after the approach by the bookmaker. 

Article 6.1.2 provides several mitigating circumstances, including a confession of guilt, previous good disciplinary record, whether the participant renounced the corrupt approach, cooperation with the ACU and its investigations, the extent of damage to the integrity and result of the game, the public interest, and associated commercial value, and any record of previous penalties.  

Under Article 6.2, a minimum of six months and a maximum of five years can be the sanction for a player convicted under Article 2.4.4.

Article 7.1.4 allows an appeal to CAS in Switzerland for “a decision to impose (or not to impose) sanctions, including the appropriateness of any sanction imposed for an offense under the Anti-Corruption Code.”

Article 7.4 states: “The deadline for filing an appeal to CAS shall be twenty-one (21) days from the date of receipt of the written reasoned decision by the appealing party. To be a valid filing under this Article, a copy of an appeal filed by the Participant must also be served on the same day on the ICC (which will thereafter provide a copy to the National Cricket Federation to which the Participant is affiliated).” 

Governance of the ICC  

In the 2000s, the International Cricket Council moved its headquarters from London to Dubai. It is interesting to note that the prosperous emirate of Dubai has a very different legal system from that of Test cricket-playing nations in the British Isles, Australasia, Africa, South Asia, or the Caribbean. 

A probable reason for the move to Dubai may be proximity to the game’s largest markets in South Asia. 

It is important that the good governance of the ICC is protected in keeping with the common values of Test-playing nations. One wishes the best for the ICC and national governing bodies like the BCB in being more pro-active to safeguard the integrity and laws of the game.

Umran Chowdhury works in the legal field. 

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