Watson slams fixing claims
Cape Town - Claims that Australian players were some of the biggest match-fixers in cricket were shocking, damaging and threatened the integrity of the game, all-rounder Shane Watson said on Tuesday.
The Australian opener said the unproven allegations, made by the player agent at the centre of the Pakistan spot-fixing case, were "unbelievably disappointing."
Agent Mazhar Majeed's claims that Australians were involved in fixing parts of matches for betting scams were made in recordings played to a London court on Monday during the trial of former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir. They are accused of conspiring with Majeed to bowl deliberate no-balls in a test against England at Lord's last August.
But Majeed did not name any Australian players and did not back up his assertions with any evidence.
"Very disappointing and pretty shocking really to see these allegations that have come out from this court case that is going on at the moment," Watson said here, where he is on tour with Australia's team. "I know from my perspective how damaging they really are to the game of cricket, but also to the individuals.
"It's just very disappointing these things happen because it challenges the integrity of the game we all love so much."
Watson added Australia's cricket body was "on top of" match-fixing problems.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said earlier on Tuesday that Majeed's claims were "outlandish and made by a person of dubious repute."
Sutherland promised an investigation if any evidence was presented, but said the claims so far appeared "baseless."
The tape recordings were made by the prosecution's chief witness Mazhar Mahmood, an undercover journalist who was working for the now-defunct British tabloid newspaper The News of the World.
On the tape, Majeed told Mahmood that Australian players would fix "brackets," a set period of a match on which gamblers bet, for example, on how many runs will be scored.
"The Australians, they are the biggest, they have 10 brackets a game," Majeed said.
Watson said unproven claims like Majeed's made people suspicious of anything unusual or unpredictable in sport.
"Crazy events sometimes do happen so you never want people questioning what exactly is going on. So it's very disappointing when these things come out," Watson said.