Cricket: Ponting eager to appear at inquiry

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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIAN Test batsman Ricky Ponting said yesterday that he wants to be the first player to appear at an Australian Cricket Board inquiry into the bookmaker scandal to ensure no slur can be cast over his much-publicised gambling habit.

The ACB chief executive, Malcolm Speed, earlier revealed that Ponting had told him last week about an approach from an Australian bookmaker to supply information about the national team in return for money. Ponting rejected the offer and wants to put his case as soon as possible to the inquiry into player conduct which was set up in response to the betting controversy involving his team-mates Shane Warne and Mark Waugh.

"What Ricky said to me, which I accept unreservedly, is that approximately a year ago in Sydney he was approached at a dog-race meeting," Speed said. "He was approached by a bookmaker, asked to provide information about the make-up of the Australian team and, in essence, who was going to be 12th man and the condition of the pitch. In return for that, he would be paid money. Ricky assures me he rejected the approach out of hand."

Speed declined to say how much money Ponting said he had been offered, while Ponting apparently did not name the bookmaker.

It is understood Ponting approached the team management last week, after the players were told that the Waugh and Warne story was to go public. It was decided to keep the matter quiet until after the third Test.

Ponting, whose Test berth is under threat because of poor form, released a book a few weeks ago titled Punter and is renowned for his betting.

The ACB fined Waugh and Warne in 1995 after it was learned they had received money from an Indian bookmaker for pitch and weather information during the 1994 tour of Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, Speed is hopeful Waugh and Warne will not have to go to Pakistan in response to a summons from that country's judicial commission into match-fixing and bribery.