Cricket: ACB launches betting inquiry

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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIAN Cricket Board said yesterday it will launch an independent inquiry into whether any of Australia's current squad have been involved with bookmakers or betting on cricket.

However, the ACB said the inquiry into the 25-strong squad would not include the payments made by an Indian bookmaker to Shane Warne and Mark Waugh in exchange for pitch and weather conditions in 1994.

The ACB said the 1994 matter was now closed, but each of Australia's contracted Test and one-day players - including Waugh and Warne - will be asked if they have been involved with "bookmakers or cricket betting".

The decision to launch an inquiry came after media reports that bookmakers had approached the former Australian Test off-spinner Greg Matthews and New Zealand's Danny Morrison.

"The first thing to do is to expand our level of inquiry to make sure there aren't any sleepers around," the ACB chairman, Denis Rogers, said.

The ACB inquiry, possibly headed by a judge, will start after the third Test between Australia and England.

Yesterday, The Dominion newspaper in New Zealand reported that Morrison had been invited to sell information during a home match against India four years ago. He said he had been offered $1,000 (pounds 600) by an Indian player to take a telephone call and provide information. "I just looked at him and said: `Are you serious?'" Morrison said.

The Australian newspaper reported that Matthews had been approached by a man in Sri Lanka in 1992 and offered money to provide information, but that he had rejected the approach outright.

Warne and Waugh have admitted being naive and stupid in accepting money from the bookmaker, but denied they had been involved in match-fixing or bribery and had not revealed details on team selections or match strategy.

The pressure of the scandal showed on spinner Waugh yesterday. After being booed and jeered as he walked in to bat against England on the first day of the third Test in Adelaide, he lost his wicket for just seven runs.

The ACB fined the pair a total of A$18,000 (pounds 7,200) in early 1995, but kept the incident quiet for almost four years.

The Pakistan Cricket Board have called for the ACB to release all information on the scandal to dispel any suggestion they were again sweeping the matter under the carpet.