Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Condon, who led the ICC unit from 2000, also believes that the vast sums of money on offer to elite players in some 20-over competitions tempted those on the rungs below to try to earn cash through illegitimate means.
Condon, who believes the ICC must have the “nuclear option” of ultimately excluding national boards who fail to clean up the sport in their country, said: “Probably the greatest trigger point [in the rise of corruption] was the explosion of T20.
“The ‘anything goes’ party atmosphere allowed some really bad people back into the game. Some of the notorious fixers from early years started to re-emerge on the circuit in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and the UK.
Lord Condon, interviewed in The Cricketer magazine, added: “It almost legitimised the bad guys being back around cricket again, and fixers were even seen in promoters’ boxes and at matches.
“What up to then had been pretty tight and regulated, suddenly became a free-for-all.”
Condon added that Twenty20 “took away the discipline and rigour [the unit] had been enforcing” and that players were exposed to “lots of people making very, very big sums of money”.
He continued: “I think the temptation was to do a little fix here and a little fix there and still win the match – and they were not seeing it as criminal.”
Condon also revealed he had suggested putting Twenty20 cricket in “quarantine” in order to contain the threat of corruption spreading.
He said: “I remember saying [at an ICC board meeting in 2008] you’ve got two choices. You can either say T20 is such a crazy form of the game, you quarantine it. If current Test players go into that, they can’t come back to Test. But that would never work.
“You’ve got to have a fit and proper regime, as you would with gambling, and a proper anti-corruption endeavour to monitor tournaments. However, there was a lot of anger from the Indian representatives who said I had no right to suggest that. They felt I was challenging the legitimacy of the Indian Premier League.”