Sarfraz Ahmed
Sarfraz Ahmed (AFP Photo)

The head of cricket’s world body on Thursday said the sport’s “spirit” is under threat after recent scandals — ranging from racist comments to corruption — that have tarnished its reputation. (ALSO READ: India in no danger of losing WC 2023 rights)

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson, speaking just days after Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was banned for four games, insisted that tough action will be taken over misconduct and match-fixing.

Sarfraz was banned on Sunday for making a racial slur against a South African player in Durban and has since returned home from the tour.

The sport is also still reeling from the controversy that embroiled Australian players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft after they were caught tampering the ball during a Test against South Africa and banned.

“Regarding player conduct, in recent times we have had some incidents around the world and we have taken necessary steps to ensure that everybody understands the spirit of cricket,” Richardson told reporters in Gurgaon.

“The spirit of cricket is something unique to the game and something that we need to protect,” he added.

Sri Lanka is at the centre of a major corruption investigation and Richardson reiterated ICC efforts to disrupt crime gangs believed to be behind match-fixing attempts.

The ICC has urged Sri Lankan players and coaches to give evidence on corruption before an amnesty expires this month.

Sri Lankan cricket has been at the centre of allegations including attempted match fixing ahead of a Test against England last year.

“In recent years we have taken a much more pro-active approach to trying to disrupt these unscrupulous individuals that wander around the earth trying to fix cricket,” said Richardson.

“The players have been very good at reporting any approach they get.

“Now you read more about anti-corruption in the media but that’s not because it’s getting worse but it’s because we are trying do much more to disrupt these criminal elements,” he added.

The former South African player is to stand down as ICC boss after this year’s World Cup when Manu Sawhney of India is to take over.

Richardson said the increased use of technology in the sport and efforts to boost the standing of Test cricket with a world championship had been his focus.

“Finally we convinced members that having a Test league is required. Probably that stands out as one of the things that I will proud of.”