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Fresh Allegations Cloud Australia's Test Win

Australia's 150-run victory over Pakistan in the Test at Lord's in July is under investigation by the ICC over alleged fixing, reports Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.It is the second recent Test match at the spiritual
PTI September 21, 2010 10:51 IST
PTI
Australia's 150-run victory over Pakistan in the Test at Lord's in July is under investigation by the ICC over alleged fixing, reports Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

It is the second recent Test match at the spiritual home of cricket to come under scrutiny for alleged Pakistani corruption but, incredibly, it involves different players to those accused of rigging aspects of the fourth Test against England three weeks ago.

It's understood the ICC is investigating the possibility that there are two separate groups of corrupt Pakistani cricketers who are aligned to different illegal bookmakers.

Captain Salman Butt has been suspended by the ICC, along with pacemen Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, over the first spot-fixing allegations that rocked the game. Shahid Afridi has been leading the team since those allegations surfaced.

Now the ICC is looking at alleged spot-fixing in the third one-dayer between Pakistan and England last week when, despite the visitors winning the match, there was slow scoring in the 39th and 40th overs as allegedly predicted before their innings. The Sun newspaper alerted the ICC to the potential of fixing in those overs, and when the prediction eventuated on the pitch, the governing body's anti-corruption unit launched a fresh investigation.

But in The Sun's submission to the ICC, it is claimed the same players responsible for that alleged fix were also paid £700,000 by illegal bookmakers in Dubai and India to rig aspects of the neutral-ground Test against Australia.

On that occasion, Afridi had returned to the side as Test captain after the turmoil of a winless summer in Australia. The Pakistan team management had accused some of its players of tanking in Australia, and imposed widespread suspensions and fines, including on captain Mohammad Yousuf and former skipper Younus Khan.

Afridi, who was not in the Test team, was brought in as captain for the next tour, played on English soil because Pakistan cannot host matches due to security fears.

After that one Test failure at Lord's, Afridi made the shock announcement that he was quitting the Test team, and Butt was appointed captain. Butt then led Pakistan to a surprise victory over Australia in the second Test in Leeds.

When the News Of The World alleged the England Test was tainted by spot-fixing, they quoted Butt's manager, Mazhar Majeed - the alleged fixer - as saying the team was trying to win games so Butt would retain the captaincy, and many players were opposed to Afridi.

Cricket Australia has not been informed that the Lord's Test in July is also under ICC investigation, but that is standard practice under the anti-corruption unit's secretive investigative methods. ''The ICC has an independent process, and Cricket Australia has put a lot of faith in the ICC's expertise and the processes of that expertise,'' a CA spokesman said last night.

The latest allegation of fixing in a Test match between Australia and Pakistan is a heavy blow after claims January's Sydney Test was fixed for £1.8 million. Australian and English cricketers are rightfully suspicious about their achievements, and all records and rankings are under a cloud while investigations continue.