Cricket Australia and the ECB have said there was no “credible evidence” linking Australian and English Test players to spot-fixing, as alleged by TV channel Al Jazeera in its documentary, which focuses on various forms of corruption in the sport.
The Tests in question are the England-India Test in Chennai in December 2016, and the Australia-India Test in Ranchi in March 2017. Al Jazeera’s allegations are that during certain periods of the game some England and Australian batsmen scored at a rate specified by fixers for the purposes of betting.
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said the “limited information” the board had was discussed with “all the England players” and they “emphatically deny the allegations, have stated categorically that the claims are false and they have our full support.”
CA requested Al Jazeera for raw footage and un-edited material to assess the allegations and determine whether an investigation was necessary.
In the documentary, a person Al Jazeera identified as Aneel Munawar, an Indian national who is said to work for crime syndicate D Company, is seen naming three England players and two Australian players to the undercover reporter as being part of the fix.
The names of the cricketers were edited out in the documentary but Al Jazeera said it would pass on information to the relevant authorities. The channel said the two Australians named by Munawar had not responded to the allegations; while the three England players “categorically denied the allegations” through their lawyers, stating that they were “made by a source who is a known criminal,” and that the likelihood of a batting team fixing scores “to within such degree of precision as alleged is highly improbable, if not practically impossible.”
Al Jazeera, however, claimed that the information passed by Munawar to the undercover reporter about run-scoring in a certain passage of play was accurate in both Tests. The instruction, the channel claimed, was for the batsmen to score slowly so that the actual runs scored would be lower than what the illegal betting market was placing bets on.
The channel said there was no evidence to indicate any other England or Australia players had been involved or aware of the alleged plot.
CA said it had not yet had the opportunity to view the raw footage containing the allegations, and requested Al Jazeera for the same. “Together with the ICC, we are aware of the investigation by Al Jazeera into alleged corruption in cricket,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said in a statement. “Although not having been provided an opportunity to view the documentary or any raw footage, our long-standing position on these matters is that credible claims will be treated very seriously and fully investigated.
“Neither the ICC or Cricket Australia is aware of any credible evidence linking Australian players to corruption in the game. We urge Al Jazeera to provide all un-edited materials and any other evidence to the ICC investigation team, so, if appropriate, a full and thorough investigation can be conducted.”
A similar message emerged from the ECB. “There is nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever,” Harrison said. “Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption. ECB had been aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary for some time but have not been given the full content. There have been repeated requests for any evidence and unedited materials to be shared with the ICC so they can fully investigate.
“We, like other member Boards, are disappointed that Al Jazeera have not been more cooperative and responsible when making such serious allegations.”
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