Cricket: Ponting turned down `four-figure' bribe

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The Independent Online
RICKY PONTING, the Australian Test cricketer, said yesterday that he turned down a four-figure bribery attempt to provide a Sydney bookmaker with information about the Australian cricket team.

Ponting told a news conference that he was approached at a greyhound race meeting last year.

"He spoke to me for a moment or two about how I and the team were going and then said he wanted to make contact with me in the future," Ponting said.

"He said he would like to know in advance about the line-up of the Australian team for each match and the pitch conditions for each game, and in return for that information he said he would pay me a four-figure amount.

"I told him I wasn't interested in any way and that I would not cooperate and I have not had any further contact with the person concerned."

Ponting informed the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) of the approach just over a week ago, following the revelation that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh had accepted payments from an Indian bookmaker during a tour of the sub- continent in 1994.

Ponting said he was sorry he did not approach the board earlier but has now pledged to give evidence on the bookmaker's approach at an independent inquiry into allegations of betting and match-fixing.

"Maybe I should have gone straight to the ACB, but I went straight to my manager and we sorted it out between us," Ponting said. "I didn't think too much of it at the time and I haven't thought too much about it since, until it came up last week."

Warne and Waugh were fined by the ACB in early 1995 but the incident was not publicised until Australian newspapers broke the news earlier this month.

The ACB was criticised for covering up the scandal. Warne and Waugh had accused the former Pakistan captain, Salim Malik, of offering them a bribe during Australia's 1994 tour of Pakistan.

Under pressure, the ACB agreed to an independent inquiry into betting and match-fixing. Several players from around the world have revealed they too had been approached by bookmakers.

Ponting, who has made no secret of his love of a bet and recently released a biography entitled "Punter", has asked that he be the first player to appear at the inquiry, which will open next week and run for about two months.

Fog held up the start of the third Test between Pakistan and Zimbabwe in Faisalabad yesterday. Besides the poor visibility the outfield was wet because of fog and dew, according to the Pakistani umpire Salim Badar.

Zimbabwe lead the series 1-0 after winning against Pakistan by seven wickets in the first Test at Peshawar. The second Test at Lahore was abandoned on the fifth day because of thick fog.