ICC members Alan Isaac, Neil Speight, Haroon Lorgat, David Becker and Ravi Sawani during the 2011 ICC Annual Conference at W Hotel on June 28, 2011, in Hong Kong, China. (Getty Images)
London: The International Cricket Council is in talks with Interpol about forging formal links to help combat corruption in the sport.
The international police agency has contacted cricket's governing body in the wake of three Pakistan players being banned for a minimum of five years for their involvement in spot-fixing.
Ronnie Flanagan, chairman of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit, said he wants increased co-operation with crime-fighting agencies around the world to prevent corruption from threatening the integrity of the sport and its commercial appeal.
"The director general of Interpol made contact with us and what I am going to explore is a memorandum of understanding... so we can mutually cooperate and work together," Flanagan told the Associated Press.
FIFA recently pledged to pay Interpol €20 million ($29 million) to help it crack down on the growing threat of match-fixing and betting fraud in football. But cricket lacks the funds to pay Interpol.
"We don't have money to spend," Flanagan said. "So we can mutually cooperate and work together, but not to the extent that we have any money to pay them to do investigations for us. Unfortunately, investigations themselves fall back to our unit."
As the ICC clamps down on corruption in international matches, Flanagan said he fears for domestic competitions which he has no authority over.
"The more we tighten up around international events and fixtures, the greater the potential risk... that these criminal people will focus elsewhere," Flanagan said. "I think we must be guarded against that."
Flanagan, a former chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said sports do not interact enough on corruption issues to share intelligence.
"I'm pretty certain that the bad guys within the sports, the malicious criminals — people outside those sports — don't necessarily confine themselves to one sport," Flanagan said at a World Sports Law Report conference on gambling. "So as they move across the barriers, across different sports, we must ensure we cooperate even more closely together.
"We must share our intelligence, share our methodology, share our experiences."
The most recent case involving Pakistan cricketers led to Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif receiving bans in February for their involvement in no-balls being bowled at predetermined times in a Test against England last year. A criminal trial is due to start in London next week.
Former Pakistan captain Salim Malik was given a life ban in 2000 after being implicated in fixing internationals, although that ban was lifted eight years later.
Australian players Shane Warne, Mark Waugh and Tim May accused Malik of offering them bribes to underperform during their tour of Pakistan in 1994.