Cricket: Call for ban on Warne

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND captain, Alec Stewart, last night stepped into the betting affair that has shocked his sport and defended the Australian Cricket Board's decision to keep the matter secret for the last three years.

Shane Warne and Mark Waugh yesterday admitted being paid by an Indian bookmaker for giving details of pitch and weather conditions during the 1994 tour to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Their actions brought them pounds 7,200 in fines from the ACB at the time but the issue only came to the surface late on Tuesday night.

Now the revelations could have a serious effect on the future of the world's leading leg spinner and the prolific middle-order batsman with demands for them to be banned. Other experts have been highly critical of the ACB.

Yet Stewart, preparing for the start of the third Ashes Test in Adelaide tomorrow, said: "They [the ACB] are not going to publish everything that happens. Some things are public and some things are private." And, responding to a claim in an Australian newspaper that similar things happened in every dressing-room, he stressed: "I have played 80-odd Test matches for England and I've never seen anything like that."

Neil Harvey, the former Australia captain, called for two-year bans for the pair and said: "I never ever thought I would see an Australian cricketer slump to these depths. It really hurts me."

Another ex-Australia captain, Richie Benaud, said: "One of the most appalling things is that it's been covered up for so long."

The former Australian captain, Kim Hughes, has insisted Warne's involvement in the matter will damage his chances of ever captaining his country. "It is different to match-fixing but it's still a shock," he said. "Two blokes who have got tremendous records are now tarnished. It's very disappointing for the game."