PERTH: Allegations in a British newspaper about attempts to organise spot-fixing during the third Ashes test between Australia and England were a "grave concern", global governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Thursday.
Cricket Australia said the report was a "serious concern", while the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said they were "aware" of the allegations even if there had been no suggestion any England players were involved.
The Sun reported that undercover reporters from the newspaper were offered the chance to pay to benefit from spot-fixing in the match, which starts in Perth on Thursday, by underground bookmakers from India.
Spot-fixing occurs when corrupt players agree to manipulate part of a cricket match by, for example, bowling a wide on a particular delivery or ensuring a particular run rate.
The corruption does not usually effect the overall outcome of the match but gamblers in the know can use the information to beat the market.
The underground bookmakers told the undercover reporters they had previously manipulated matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and were also targeting Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash League (BBL).
The newspaper said it had passed all the evidence to the ICC, who said the "serious allegations" were of "grave concern".
"Our anti-corruption unit will continue working to uphold integrity in cricket focusing on education, prevention and disruption of any attempts to corrupt, including in relation to the third test in Australia," an official said.
A spokesman for Cricket Australia said the body took "a zero-tolerance approach against anybody trying to bring the game into disrepute". "Cricket Australia will co-operate fully with any ICC Anti-Corruption Unit investigation," he said. "Australian cricket has a long-standing, proactive approach to sports integrity management and Cricket Australia has a dedicated Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) to prevent corruption within Australian domestic competitions. "Players are able to report any suspicions they have on a confidential basis and in the past there has been a strong Australian player culture to do so." The ECB said the body worked closely with the ICC and its Anti-Corruption unit to "protect the integrity" of cricket. "We are aware of these allegations and there is no suggestion that any of the England team is involved in any way," said a spokesman. Four Pakistan cricketers were jailed in Britain in 2011 and banned from the game for lengthy periods after taking money from a bookmaker to spot-fix during a test against England at Lord's in 2010.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury) ((Nick.Mulvenney@tr.com; +61 2 9373 1792; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))