India selectors accuse player of bribe offer

The Indian cricket board yesterday announced an inquiry into an allegation that a leading domestic player offered bribes to two national selectors.

The 30-year-old Maharashtra batsman Abhijit Kale, who has denied any wrongdoing, has been suspended from all cricket until the investigation is completed, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Jagmohan Dalmiya, said.

Dalmiya said the selectors Pranab Roy and Kiran More, both former Test players, had lodged complaints that Kale offered them money to secure selection to India's senior team. "The allegations against me are false," Kale said. "I'm shocked to see my name dragged into this."

The player won support from the India captain, Sourav Ganguly. "I've known Kale for many years and I'm not sure somebody like him can do such a thing," Ganguly said. "I still don't believe it."

The prolific Kale has scored 6,806 runs in 84 first-class games at an average of 58.67, including 24 hundreds. His only appearance for India was against Bangladesh in a one-day tri-series match in Dhaka in April.

In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the former national team captain, Kepler Wessels, has continued his denial of the racism claims that led to his suspension as the coach of Eastern Province.

Wessels issued a statement yesterday denying the accusation, made by two black players from his own squad, that he made a racist remark. "I emphatically deny the incident took place or that I ever uttered any words remotely approximating the words that I am accused of uttering," Wessels said. Wessels threatened to bring charges of racism against his accusers, saying that such counter-action would be "necessary and fair".

The Eastern Province Herald newspaper in South Africa reported the details yesterday. Wessels is alleged to have told the white cricketer Johann Louw at a net practice on 23 October: "Stop talking nonsense to those two animals, I want you to bowl now."

Louw has provided Wessels's legal team with a sworn affidavit saying "the incident never took place".