ICC reopens dirty book on cricket betting

Ashes under cloud

ICC reopens dirty book on cricket betting

A view of the Oval pitch ahead of the deciding Test. GUARDIAN

The inglorious history of cricket betting has returned, this time to singe the Ashes series underway in England.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday confirmed that an Australian cricketer was approached by a bookmaker during the ongoing Ashes tour of England.

“Approaches to players do happen and it would be naive to assume otherwise; if they did not, then there would be no need for the continuing existence of the ACSU (Anti-Corruption and Security Unit),” the sport’s governing body added. In its statement, the organisation said: “The ICC would like to place on record its praise for the player approached and the Australian team management for reporting the issue.” It has, however, taken care so far to stop itself from revealing the cricketer’s name. But the ICC was quick to add that “there was no evidence of any illegal activity as a result of this approach, which took place following the second Test at Lord’s in July.” Driving home this point, the ICC said there was “no indication” that any of the matches in the current Ashes series or the ICC World Twenty20 2009 (in England in June) “have been affected by corruption in any way” and that it was confident the issue was under control.

While it may never be known which Australian cricketer was approached, the episode is a throwback to 2000 when the then South African captain Hansie Cronje was approached by a bookie while playing in India. At that time, several Indian cricketers, including Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nikhil Chopra had come under a cloud for throwing away matches.

The ICC’s revelation and its probe come ahead of Thursday’s deciding Test at The Oval. Cricket Australia(CA) declined to comment on the player approached. “Any anti-corruption issue in cricket is a matter for the ICC,” CA said.  Australian media reported a player was approached at the bar of the team’s London hotel. Captain Ricky Ponting was asked on Wednesday what he had to say about the report and another allegation that an Australian player had been approached during this year's Twenty20 World Cup in England. “Not much, unfortunately,” Ponting said.

“As players and as a team, we did everything we were supposed to by the letter of the law and reported everything to the ICC and, as you are aware, it’s under ICC investigation. So there is no more we can say,” he commented.

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