Tue, Aug 13, 10:50pm by Kevin Pitstock
Former Australia captain Steven Waugh is calling on the introduction of lie detector tests to end match fixing in cricket and restore public confidence in the sport. Though Waugh says such tests would be expensive, such measures must be taken if cricket is to avoid the kind of credibility gap faced by other sports like cycling.
Since his retirement from test matches in 2004, Mr Waugh has used his position on the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee to become a staunch anti-corruption advocate. The London-based Marlybone Cricket Club, which was founded in 1787, was the governing authority for cricket in England, Wales, and much of the rest of the world until 1993. In the wake of a succession of damaging match fixing scandals since the ICC took over policing the sport, Steven Waugh’s comments take on added weight.
These viewpoints are explored in Waugh’s new book, The Meaning of Luck. He suggests that polygraph tests are the obvious answer to problems in cricket, such as gambling on the sport and matchfixing. Various scandals involving other the other acts have begun to erode public confidence in the sport in Australia and elsewhere.
Steven Waugh says these days, every error a player makes is under special scrutiny as a sign the player might be throwing the match. He has grown sick of seeing the cynics dispute every “dropped catch, poor shot, (and) wide delivery”. To stop the constant finger pointing and backbiting, the International Cricket Council must take radical measures to restore confidence.
Mr Waugh has undergone polygraph testing himself in order to establish that such tests are accurate. He says the comprehensive use of lie detection techniques would allow players who’ve been wrongly accused to clear their names. Those with nothing to hide should have no fear of facing the polygraph.
Even more, the fear of facing a polygraph could have a dampening effect on players who might otherwise consider such actions. The proper use of said techniques could break open cases, as players find they can’t beat the polygraph or decide to confess their wrongdoing beforehand.
In The Meaning of Luck, Steven Waugh also warns about dangers posed to the sport by the promotion of Twenty20 tournaments. Because the T20 events are conducted away from the media spotlight and match officials’ direct oversight, these domestic second-tier competitions could become the target for corrupt bookmakers.
These are bold statements by the former Australia cricket captain, but Mr Waugh says the sport will only be saved by courageous people taking bold action. He labelled match fixers a “plague” and says the practice of fixing matches must be approached as the danger it is.
Whether the ICC will take Steven Waugh’s advice is another matter entirely. Sceptics are certain to point out that polygraphs are not 100% accurate, so a player’s reputation could be destroyed if their nerves caused them to produce inaccurate results. For such a policy to be fair and even-handed, procedures would have to be put in place to assure those who failed were given opportunities to exonerate themselves. If so, then polygraphs might be the answer to a perennial problem.
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