ICC warns Pakistan players over smart watches

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LONDON: An anti-corruption official of the International Cricket Council (ICC) has ordered Pakistan players to stop wearing smart watches during play as controversy returned to Lord’s.

Bowler Hasan Ali confirmed that an ICC representative had visited the Pakistan dressing room at the close of play on day one of the first Test on Thursday.

“An ICC anti-corruption officer came to us and told us this is not allowed,” said Hasan. “So, next time nobody will wear them. I didn’t know earlier that anyone was wearing one.”

Two Pakistan players, Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq, appeared to be wearing what were believed to be Apple watches during the day, though there was no suggestion of any wrongdoing.

However, smart watches must be disabled to comply with ICC anti-corruption regulations. They must not be connected to a phone or -Wi-Fi or be capable of receiving communications, such as messages. Watches used in such a way could be considered phones. It is unclear whether the watches involved were switched on or disabled.

The ICC reaction reflects the heightened sensitivity around corruption in cricket, which remains a huge concern for the ICC. At Lord’s in 2010, three Pakistan players, including Mohammad Amir, who is playing in this game, were implicated in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the sport’s history, over deliberately bowling no-balls.

Should they choose to do so, the ICC is entitled to download all the material from the smart watches to monitor activity.

Last year, the ICC anti-corruption unit gained the power to force players to hand over their mobile phones – including all activity on instant messaging services such as WhatsApp – as part of attempts to curb the risk of corruption.

In the final three months of last year, three international captains, including Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed, reported illegal approaches from bookmakers to the ICC.

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