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ICC ties up with law enforcement agencies before World Cup

New Delhi: Promising a corruption-free World Cup, the ICC today said it has struck partnerships with law enforcement agencies in Australia and New Zealand in its endeavour to prevent bookies from associating with the players.

"Corruption in any sport is a big challenge these days. Cricket has led the way in that fight against corruption. The measures that have been put in place for this year's cricket World Cup are probably the most stringent than ever before," ICC CEO David Richardson said.

"For the first time, partnerships have been struck between ICC and the law enforcement agencies in both Australia and New Zealand," Richardson said on the sidelines of an ICC event where luxury watch brand 'Hublot' was announced as the official timekeeper of the World Cup.

The ICC is working overtime with investigative agencies to even track down any illegal betting or bookies, who may be looking to come in contact with players. "Our anti-corruption unit doesn't have its own police investigatory powers but when we team up with the likes of the Australian Federal Police and New Zealand Police then that gives us the arms in our necks.

"And I can assure the people that if anybody is planning on trying to fix matches or trying to associate with players at this year's event they will find it very difficult indeed and I can safely say that the World Cup would be free of any corruption or spot fixing," said Richardson.

After playing a successful host in 1992, which was the first World Cup in coloured clothing, Australia and New Zealand want to go better in showcasing the 50-over format as a major attraction of the sport. "Cricket is unique in the sense that it has got three formats of the same game. It has got something for everybody.

The 50-over format I think is the perfect bridge between the traditional Test-match version and the Twenty20 short sharp version, which is sometimes referred to more as entertainment than a sport. "The new rules in the 50-over format have made the game far more attacking from the runs per over point of view.

Secondly more wickets are being taken," said the former South African wicketkeeper-batsman. With new ODI rules in place, the 50-over format has seen a sea change from the 1980s and 90s brand of cricket and Richardson, who was sharing the stage with Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, said that the game has become aggressive for
the better.

"So all round it has led to more attacking cricket. Yes we do see it is quite difficult for bowlers at some stages of the game specially on flat wickets. But we think that the conditions in Australia will provide a perfect balance between bat and ball. What we do find is that even spin bowlers who might be a little bit petrified at the fielding restrictions sometimes are having a lot of success in the one-day games.

"So all in all we think it will lead to a much more exciting brand of cricket and less predictable. In the old days the one-dayers used to follow the same predictable
pattern what we find now is that what is predictable is that it is unpredictable. We can see scores of 400 the one day and 180 the next and a particular game going up and down and swinging from one team to another.

We are looking forward to this World Cup and it will be exciting." Richardson, who was a part of the Keppler Wessels-led South African team, said that it's a definite high for a player to participate in a World Cup, let alone win it. "A lot of people say what does it mean to a player to participate or play in a World Cup. I can honestly say that it means the world, it defines the player.

Harbhajan will agree that when you play so much cricket and go on a number of tours whether you playing at Ahmedabad at Kanpur or Islamabad, they all blend into one. You are not quite sure which occasion is which. But a World Cup is a World Cup. "And I remember the 1992 World Cup very vividly. I remember every single detail of that event. From arriving in that event to getting the kit, the first team talk.

The details of so many matches come to you as it was yesterday. So it means the world to participate in a World Cup to any player and to be successful like Harbhajan has been fortunate enough to life the trophy. It's a world of difference and if you haven't done it then it's a constant regret that you have."

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