The most recent controversy surrounding cricket again besmirches the game’s name.
|Ponting said that victory in Sydney was one of his ‘more satisfying moments on the cricket field’ [GALLO/GETTY]|
Australia captain Ricky Ponting says he is shocked after the corruption scandal engulfing Pakistan’s cricketers put the fairness of this year’s Sydney Test in doubt – with the International Cricket Council (ICC) expected to look into 82 matches for evidence of fixing.
It came as Pakistan endured the worst day in their Test history on Sunday, not only losing by a record margin to England but also becoming embroiled in a match-fixing investigation carried out by a British newspaper and then the police.
On Saturday, London detectives arrested a man for offering bribes to some Pakistan players for spot fixing in the fourth Test against England at Lord’s following claims in the News of the World.
The man also told undercover newspaper reporters that the Sydney Test in January, which Australia won by 36 runs after overcoming a 206-run first innings deficit before dismissing Pakistan for 139 in their run chase, had been fixed.
The match was investigated by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, while the Pakistan tour of Australia, in which the tourists lost all of their matches, was the subject to an inquiry by the Pakistani board.
Eighty-two Test and one-day internationals matches competed in by Pakistan will be looked into by cricket’s corruption watchdogs, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported late on Sunday.
“As a cricketer everything I have seen so far has been quite shocking to tell the truth,” Ponting told ABC radio on Monday.
“The way we won (in Sydney) was one of the more satisfying moments that I’ve had on the cricket field.
“And now when some of these things come to light is when you start to slightly doubt some of the things that have happened.”
On Sunday the News of the World reported that pacemen Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif had bowled three deliberate no-balls by pre-arrangement on the opening day of the fourth Test against England last Thursday.
The ICC will come down heavily if any player is found guilty, the council’s president Sharad Pawar said in Mumbai on Monday.
“If, unfortunately, there is a truth, then ruthless actions will be taken,” Pawar said.
“I am absolutely confident that both boards – English and Pakistani – will never encourage or protect anybody who has done a wrong thing.”
Police said the 35-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.
Millions of dollars are bet annually in the Indian sub-continent on individual incidents such as no-balls within international cricket matches which are widely televised there.
Tour manager Yawar Saeed told Sky Sports police had confiscated mobile phones belonging to Amir, Asif and captain Salman Butt.
The Pakistan team did not bother to warm up on Sunday and were duly defeated by an innings and 225 runs before lunch on the fourth day.
Only a sprinkling of spectators were present to watch the dying rites of a series won 3-1 by the home side and when Amir came out to bat he was booed.
The fans were even denied sight of a victory ceremony which was held in the Long Room in the Lord’s pavilion in a chilly atmosphere.
Amir got neither applause nor handshakes when he was presented with the award for Pakistan player of the series.
Pakistan, who play all their international matches abroad because of the parlous security situation at home, have played six Tests in seven weeks in England including a drawn series with Australia.
Sunday’s news caused consternation in Pakistan, where their cricket team’s wins over Australia and England this season have provided a small amount of pleasure for those affected by the floods which have killed at least 1,600 people and forced more than six million from their homes.
Former Pakistan captain Salim Malik was one of three international leaders who were banned for life after a match-fixing scandal which emerged in 2000.
South African Hansie Cronje and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin also received life bans.
By coincidence, the largest major scandal to affect Pakistan was the fourth day of the fourth Test in the 2006 series against England.
Pakistan became the first international team to forfeit a Test when captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and his side refused to take the field after tea.
Umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove had awarded five penalty runs to England because they believed Pakistan had tampered with the ball.