Dubai: The International Cricket Council on Monday dismissed a claim in a British newspaper that Indian bookmakers were fixing the results of English County games and overseas fixtures, and that they were using a Bollywood actress as a honeytrap to recruit players from countries.
The chief executive of the sport's world governing body, Haroon Lorgat, described a report in Britain's Sunday Times that it was probing last year's World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan as "baseless and misleading".
The ICC also dismissed the claim that it was investigating the semi-final, asserting that the Indo-Pak clash was clean.
"The ICC has no reason or evidence to require an investigation into this match," he said in an emailed statement to media. "It is indeed sad for spurious claims to be made, which only serve to cause doubt on the semi-final of one of the most successful ICC Cricket World Cups ever."
The weekly claimed on Sunday that it had uncovered evidence that tens of thousands of Pounds were on offer to players to throw part or all of international matches, including the crunch semi-final between the bitter South Asian rivals. India won the match and went on to beat Sri Lanka in the final.
One New Delhi-based bookmaker was quoted as saying that English County cricket was a "good new market" because matches were low-profile.
Money was on offer to batsmen to score slowly and bowlers to concede runs in a set pattern, the report said.
The allegations came just weeks after former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield became the first English cricketer to be jailed for corruption, after admitting accepting money to fix a match against Durham in September 2009.
Last year, Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were also jailed in Britain for their role in a separate "spot-fixing" scandal concerning a 2010 Test match against England.
Earlier, allegations that the World Cup semi-final was fixed were also rubbished by players and those associated with the game, even as the Bollywood actress at the centre of the fresh controversy threatened to sue a British newspaper which carried the report.
Former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly found little substance in the reports.
"I don't know how they have got the information, but let me tell (you) that India are world champions and nobody can take that away from us," Ganguly said.
Former India spinner Bishen Singh Bedi also did not find any merit in the allegations.
"I am hurt as a cricketer that the name of the Indian team has been dragged into it when they played the semi-final against Pakistan. I think that is a load of rubbish," Bedi said.
Meanwhile, the BCCI has declined to comment on the report. BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said unless they received something concrete from the ICC or any agency, they will not comment on the issue.
"Newspapers can publish anything, unless we get something concrete from an agency or ICC, I don't think it would be appropriate to react to it," Shukla told reporters. "We haven't got anything from the ICC, unless we get it from some police agency, it would be inappropriate to react to media reports."
Reacting to the allegations, former ICC president Ehsan Mani, however, said he was "taking the report seriously".
Mani suggested that the best way tackle the menace was to legalise betting and counseled that governments should take steps to regulate betting.
"ICC and cricket boards have not been able to get to the root cause (bookies) of the problem. So far it (betting) is underground. If you regulate it, then you can have administrative control, you can monitor it and unusual pattern can be highlighted," he said.
"There is no other way. A lot of money, close to 500-600 million, will be on bet during the next Asia Cup match between India and Pakistan."
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