Al Jazeera urged to hand over cricket fixing evidence
Dubai (AFP) –
Qatari news channel Al Jazeera was urged to hand over evidence of alleged match-fixing on Monday after a TV documentary claimed to uncover corruption at the highest levels of world cricket.
England's coach and captain both slammed allegations of spot-fixing as "outrageous", and Australia said it wasn't aware of any "credible evidence" after Sunday's broadcast.
But Sri Lanka has suspended a player and a groundsman over a suspected pitch-tampering plot in Galle, while Sri Lankan police have launched an investigation.
The documentary also claims to reveal spot-fixing -- rigging elements of play for betting purposes -- in Test matches between India and England at Chennai in December 2016, and India and Australia at Ranchi in March 2017.
Cricket has endured several corruption scandals over the years, including a 2010 newspaper sting which left three Pakistan players in jail over spot-fixing during a Test against England.
In secretly recorded footage, an alleged underworld figure says: "I'm telling you, each script I give you will happen, happen and happen."
He later predicts passages of play during the Test matches in Chennai and Ranchi, and names England and Australia players who he says were involved. The names were not revealed in the documentary.
Alex Marshall, the head of the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, urged Al Jazeera to hand over its footage to investigators.
"We have been in ongoing dialogue with the broadcaster which has refused our continual requests to cooperate and share information which has hampered our investigation to date," he said.
"I would now urge the production team to provide us with all unedited and unseen evidence they are in possession of, to enable us to expedite a thorough investigation."
- 'Outrageous, is all I can say' -
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he had seen no "credible evidence" linking Australian players to corruption, but also said Al Jazeera should share its footage with the ICC.
"We urge Al Jazeera to provide all unedited materials and any other evidence to the ICC investigation team, so, if appropriate, a full and thorough investigation can be conducted," he said.
A spokesman for the Board of Control for Cricket in India said: "The BCCI anti-corruption unit is working closely with the ICC anti-corruption on the alleged claims by a television channel."
England captain Joe Root told the BBC "it is outrageous that our players have been accused", adding: "All the players have been briefed by the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), and been told there's absolutely nothing to worry about."
England's coach Trevor Bayliss said: "Having been there (at the Chennai Test, which England lost by an innings and 75 runs) -- outrageous, is all I can say."
Former England captain Michael Atherton also cast doubt on the alleged spot-fixing, saying highly paid Test players were unlikely to be tempted by bribes.
"(I) would be astonished if there was any credence to the claims. It makes no sense," Atherton wrote in The Times.
However, Sri Lanka Cricket suspended the curator of the Galle International Stadium as well as a professional player, who were featured in a separate segment of the documentary.
Tharindu Mendis, a player from Colombo, and curator Tharanga Indika were shown talking about doctoring pitches during a secretly filmed meeting with an undercover reporter.
The men were reportedly discussing ways to prepare the pitch to ensure that the first Test against England in November doesn't end in a draw, and yields a result in less than four days.
© 2018 AFP