Hong Kong all-rounder Irfan Ahmed charged with anti-corruption offense
Hong Kong all-rounder Irfan Ahmed has been charged with an anti-corruption offence. He was approached by one of the same alleged fixers who paid disgraced former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent to corrupt county matches in England. Ahmed was due to feature at the ICC World Twenty20 championship in India in March.
The 26-year old faces a possible ban of between two and five years if found guilty. A tribunal decreed that he failed to report to authorities an offer made to him by an alleged match-fixer. Match fixing controversies has rocked the ICC for some time now. Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir returns to international cricket after facing a ban of five years. Amir, who was convicted for fixing an international Test match against England in 2010. Recently Lou Vincent also claimed that he was involved in match fixing, though not in international cricket.
Hong Kong is currently ranked 11th in the world in Twenty20 cricket. They will end up playing against the likes of South Africa and England at the World T20 if the team advances through the preliminary stage. The team is rocked by this match fixing controversy before the World T20.
Ahmed, who has represented Hong Kong in six ODIs and eight T20 internationals, has not played since October 31, after which he withdrew from playing duties for personal reasons. His brother Nadeem, 28, also represents Hong Kong. They have Pakistani heritage but were raised in Hong Kong.
However, it could also have far wider reaching implications with the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit understood to be continuing a probe into the reach of illegal bookmaking networks, and in particular their targeting of players in associate nations.
Ahmed has retained the Australian barrister Kevin Egan, who on January 11 moved to play down all the charges against his client. Egan said that Ahmed had been charged with failing to report an approach from a former Pakistani cricketer in Hong Kong, and there was no suggestion at all he had been involved in corruption.
Egan said, "The former cricketer was like a father figure to him and [Ahmed] was approached with a corrupt offer which he rejected. But the only criminality alleged against him by the ICC was simply having failed to report that approach. At the moment we're in negotiations with the ICC and those negotiations have not yet concluded. I expect that within the next couple of weeks we will have come to a conclusion."
A spokesman of the Hong Kong Cricket Association said on January 11 that the association was "unable to comment in the circumstances". Irfan Ahmed has been charged with a failure to report and approach received by him to engage in conduct which would be a breach of the Anti-corruption code.