International Cricket Council rubbish Ashes spot-fixing claims

England's Dawid Malan walks off the pitch having scored his first Test century. (AP)
Updated 14 December 2017
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International Cricket Council rubbish Ashes spot-fixing claims

LONDON: The International Cricket Council has clean bowled claims the third Ashes test had been “corrupted” after claims in a British newspaper that bookmakers offered to fix parts of the match.
The Sun newspaper published purported evidence of bookmakers offering to sell details of rigged periods of play for betting purposes in the Test which began yesterday in Perth.
ICC anti-corruption unit general manager Alex Marshall launched an investigation and declared their was absolutely no evidence that the clash was corrupted.
“From my initial assessment of the material, there is no evidence, either from The Sun or via our own intelligence, to suggest the current test match has been corrupted,” Marshall said in a statement.
“At this stage of the investigation, there is no indication that any players in this Test have been in contact with the alleged fixers.
“The allegations are wide-ranging and relate to various forms of cricket in several countries, including T20 tournaments. We will look closely at all the information as part of our investigation.”
Marshall said police had not been contacted over the claims.
“Nothing has been referred as yet because we are still assessing the information. If we deem that offenses have taken place in countries where match-fixing is illegal then, yes, we will work with the local police and report our concerns and share information to push for prosecution.”
The Sun said it conducted a four-month investigation, with interviews conducted at hotels in New Delhi and Dubai with two men claiming to be involved in illegal gambling.
“Before match, I will tell you this over, this runs and then you have to put all the bets on that over,” a man says in the newspaper’s undercover video footage.
During the video, information on fixes is estimated to be worth around $150,000.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he spoke with Marshall about the allegations, and wondered why the story was published on the day the third Test began.
“There’s no substance to these allegations or justification to suspect that this test match or indeed the Ashes series as a whole is subject to corrupt activities,” Sutherland told a news conference at the WACA.
“My comments today are based on a briefing I’ve had from Alex Marshall and I don’t think for one moment anyone should believe that we’re complacent. The timing is a bit strange, obviously, but I guess I’ll leave that to Alex to make judgments on what the reason behind this might be.”
Meanwhile, England enjoyed the better of day one of the Test in Perth with Dawid Malan ending the day on 110 not out, the side’s first century of the series.
The tourists began day two earlier this morning on 305 for four having won the toss and elected to bat. Australia dominated the early exchanges, having England at 131 for four at one stage. But Malan was joined by Jonny Bairstow (75 not out) and the pair put on an unbeaten 174 for the fifth wicket to give the day to the tourists.
England went into the match 2-0 down in the series and needing a win to keep their Ashes hopes alive. And Malan said the fact the pressure was on made his maiden Test ton all the more emotional.
“Nice to do it under pressure and when the team needs it,” the left-hander said.
“I was so emotional (reaching 100). I didn’t really know what to do, I almost started crying when it happened. To do it in front of my parents, the sacrifices they made. It’s nice to repay them.
“With anything you do, you need self-belief, to feel like you belong. When you get your first hundred, you have that belief to trust your game. I might never get a run again, but you still have the belief to perform at the highest level.
“I do like to be positive. I walked out and thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, see the ball, hit the ball and do what comes naturally’.
“You lie in bed at night thinking about scoring a hundred, I didn’t even know what to do. You always play it through your head about how you’re going to score a hundred at some point.”


'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 27 min 59 sec ago
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'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.