Australian Cricket Players approached by Illegal Bookie in England

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:


SYDNEY — (Associated Press) ---- Australian cricketers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin have claimed they were approached by an illegal Indian bookmaker during last year's Ashes tour of England.

Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson also were approached by a bookmaker on the same tour, Australian Associated Press reported later Tuesday, citing an unnamed Cricket Australia spokesperson but giving no other details.

Watson said he'd immediately reported their separate meetings to team management because the approaches were "more intense" than the usual contact with ordinary fans.

The bookmaker met Watson while the Australian team was staying at an exclusive hotel in London and praised the 29-year-old all-rounder before inviting him out for drinks and "a bit of fun."

"I didn't think too much more of it until I found out a bit more information and that he was actually one of the illegal bookmakers," Watson said.

The revelations come as British police investigate allegations by a tabloid newspaper that two of Pakistan's players deliberately bowled no-balls in a Test last week against England in exchange for money, sparking another cricket match-fixing scandal.

In 1995, Australia's Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were fined for taking money from an Indian bookmaker in exchange for information on pitch and weather conditions during a tour to Sri Lanka. Players from South Africa, India and Pakistan were banned from international cricket in the game's more recent match-fixing scandals.

Watson said he hadn't discussed any specific match-fixing details with the bookmaker, and that the conversations had been "fairly friendly" but "a little bit different to just a general Indian fan who enjoys what you do."

"We're very well educated about what we can and can't do," Watson added. "We know exactly where the line is, and it's a very obvious line of what goes on."

Watson said he was sorry to hear about the possible involvement in the alleged betting scandal of Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir.

"I probably feel for him more than anyone because he's only a young, naive and innocent young guy," Watson said.

"I found him to be a brilliant competitor on the field. He always gave everything he got every single time that I competed against him and I found him to be an extremely skilful bowler for a 19-year-old."

Haddin said he was approached separately, with an Indian man coming to the wicketkeeper's hotel room while he was talking to his wife on the telephone.

"I got a knock on my door from someone asking if I wanted to come across to their room to have a drink, which I thought was a bit odd," Haddin explained.

The unusual encounter raised Haddin's suspicions and he alerted team manager Steve Bernard and the ICC's security manager John Rhodes.

Amid the latest claims of match-fixing, Pakistan's surprising loss from a commanding position in a Test against Australia earlier this year has been called into question by some critics. Pakistan lost the three-match series 3-0.

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