Cricket Australia sees red over match-fixing claims

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says claims made in a London court over Australian match-fixing are “outlandish and made by a person of dubious repute”.

On Monday, the player agent at the centre of the Pakistan spot-fixing allegations, Mazhar Majeed, named in recordings played in court several high-profile ex-Pakistan internationals as well as unnamed Australians as being involved in corruption.

Sutherland said on Tuesday that “these sweeping statements unfairly malign Australian cricketers”, but if there was any evidence of wrongdoing, Australian officials would investigate.

“These would appear to be baseless allegations,” Sutherland added, saying that he would have been made aware by the International Cricket Council (ICC) if Australians were involved in any match-fixing.

The recordings were made by the prosecution’s chief witness Mazhar Mahmood, the undercover journalist who was working for the now-defunct British tabloid the News of the World. The recordings were played at London’s Southwark crown court on the fourth day of the trial.

Majeed accused Australian players of being the “biggest” match-fixers in world cricket, although he never backed his claim up with any evidence.

Majeed told Mahmood that Australian players would fix “brackets”, a set period of a match on which gamblers bet, for example, on how many runs will be scored.

“The Australians, they are the biggest. They have 10 brackets a game,” Majeed said on the tape played to the court.

‘It’s just not in the Australian culture’
Sutherland said on Tuesday that the ICC attends all international matches with its corruption unit and “there is nothing I have heard to suggest that there are Australian players who are of interest to them”.

“If there is any issue or there is any concern, we will investigate them, Sutherland added. “If we charge players and we find them guilty we will have no qualms about issuing a life sentence on players who are found guilty of match-fixing.”

Australian Cricketers’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh said Majeed was unreliable and his evidence should be considered in context.

“I don’t think he’s got a lot of credibility,” Marsh told Australian Broadcasting radio. “I found it very interesting that he was prepared to name the names of some Pakistani players but no Australian players.

“Our players are paid very well, they’re educated very well, and I think our guys understand the consequences of getting involved here in this space. It’s just not in the Australian culture.”

Federal Sports Minister Mark Arbib said Majeed’s comments should be treated with caution.

“Majeed has made a general assertion with no evidence whatsoever,” he said. “Without evidence to back up the allegations, it is a terrible slur on the reputation of all our cricketers.”

Pakistan’s Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer are accused of conspiring with Majeed to bowl deliberate no-balls in the fourth test against England at Lord’s in August of last year.

Butt and Asif deny the charges. Majeed and Amir are not required to appear in court. — Sapa-AP

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