London/Melbourne: More skeletons tumbled out on Monday in the match-fixing saga with reports saying that the first Test between England and Pakistan in the just-ended series and Pakistan and Australia in Sydney in January were also fixed.
Meanwhile, another report claimed that the Pakistani players were found with cash exceeding their daily allowances during a Scotland Yard raid on Saturday night.
The bookie at the centre of the storm, Mazhar Majeed, who was arrested on Saturday and released on bail on Sunday night, is seen claiming that the result of the Sydney Test between Australia and Pakistan was rigged in the video of the sting operation conducted by British tabloid ‘The News of the World´.
In the video, Majeed is seen boasting about the fixed result of the Sydney Test and the money he earned from it.
“Let me tell you the last Test we did. It was the second Test against Australia in Sydney. Australia had two more wickets left. They had a lead of 10 runs, yeah. And Pakistan had all their wickets remaining.
“The odds for Pakistan to lose that match, for Australia to win that match, were I think 40-1. We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets,” newspapers here quoted Majeed as saying in the sting video.
“That one we made 1.3 million pounds. But that’s what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise.”
Australia clinched an unlikely 36-run win in the match after Pakistan lost nine wickets for a mere 89 runs. Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal dropped four catches in the match which helped Australia recover from a potentially losing situation.
The ICC’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit had investigated the match but gave it an all-clear.
Compounding the Pakistan cricket team’s woes was a report which claimed that the side’s players rigged the opening Test against England, which the hosts won by a massive 354 runs last month in Nottingham.
According to British tabloid ‘The Sun’, Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner Cressida Dick was told about Pakistani players being involved in match fixing a month ago.
”... police were told a month ago about match-fixing in the England vs Pakistan Test series. Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner Cressida Dick was tipped off over alleged corruption in the first match ( 29 July to 1 August ),” the tabloid claimed.
Quoting a source, the newspaper said that an informer had given “credible” information about match-fixing by Pakistani players to the police here.
“The information given to assistant commissioner Dick was credible. But such an investigation would have soaked up a huge amount of resources, with no guarantee of a result,” the source was quoted as saying.
“The intelligence was still being analysed to see if there was any possible way forward. It now transpires that corruption has continued.
“With what emerged yesterday and the information supplied four weeks ago, it’s hard to see how people will look at cricket the same again. Millions will have been watching on Sunday wondering if it was real or not,” he added.
The new revelations are bound to damage the Pakistan cricket team’s reputation even more after the sting operation “exposed” ‘spot-fixing’ by pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, who were allegedly paid by Majeed to send down no balls during the lost Lord’s Test against England.
The Pakistani cricketers implicated in the scandal, including Test captain Salman Butt, Asif, Aamir and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, have had their mobile phones and reportedly their passports confiscated by the police.
But the storm has failed to force a resignation from Butt, who has reacted by saying that, “I haven’t heard any allegations, except just taking my name. There’s nothing I’ve seen or been shown on TV that involves me.”
But rattled by the bookie’s claim about the Sydney Test, Cricket Australia said the allegations are “most disturbing” and called for a thorough investigation into the scandal.
“The reports from the UK are most disturbing and we look forward to the outcome of rigorous investigation by the UK authorities as well as by the ICC,” CA chief James Sutherland said.
”It is critical for cricket that the public has confidence in the integrity of the outcome of games, which is why CA and other ICC members have supported the significant world cricket investment in anti corruption over the last decade or more,” Sutherland added.
Sutherland said so far CA had not doubts about the Sydney Test.
“CA had been in no doubt that Australia had won that game on the merit of their on-field performance and will now wait on evidence from UK and ICC investigations before making any further comment,” he said in a CA statement.
Equally disturbed by the turn of events was Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who said if the match-fixing slur is proved right, all individual milestones by his players in the Sydney game would be “tainted”.
“The thing that I’m most worried about if any of this is proven to be true is some of the individual performances that took place in that game,” he said.
“You look at Mike Hussey’s second innings hundred and Peter Siddle’s batting and the way he was with Mike Hussey that day and Nathan Hauritz taking five wickets on the final day to win us the game.
“All of those individual milestones will be tainted as well,” he added.
Ponting insisted that he never suspected anything fishy during the match.
“Not at the time, no, I had no idea about anything like that at all,” Ponting told ‘ABC Radio’.
“The way we won 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. It’s not up to us to worry about that anyway,” he added.