Cricket-Bollywood actress linked to new fixing allegations

LONDON, March 11 Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:04pm GMT

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LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to investigate allegations that Indian bookmakers, with the help of a Bollywood actress, have been fixing the results of English County Championship matches and international games, the Sunday Times reported.

The London newspaper, in a front-page article headed: "English cricket in bung scandal" said it had evidence that tens of thousands of pounds was being offered to players to throw part or all of international matches, including last year's World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan.

It said batsmen were being offered "typically 44,000 pounds ($69,000) for slow scoring, 50,000 pounds for bowlers who concede runs and as much as 750,000 pounds to players or officials who can guarantee the outcome of a match".

The paper said bookies had used an unidentified Bollywood actress to help with the fixing and stated: "So rife is match-fixing in parts of India that cricket may be in danger of losing its reputation as a civilised sport played by gentlemanly rules.

"Instead it is in danger of becoming a byword for racketeering."

The paper quoted one Delhi bookmaker boasting that English county cricket was a "good new market" as it involved "low-profile matches and nobody monitors them. That's why good money can be made there without any hassle".

An ICC spokesman told the Sunday Times: "We are grateful for the information you have provided and will launch an inquiry into these serious allegations.

"Betting on cricket in the legal and illegal markets continues to grow rapidly and, with many, many millions of dollars being bet on every match, the threat of corrupters seeking to influence the game has not gone away."

The allegations come after former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield became the first English cricketer to be jailed for corruption after admitting that he took money to fix a match against Durham in September 2009.

Last year, Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were also jailed in Britain for their role in a spot-fixing scandal concerning a Test match against England at Lord's in August 2010. ($1 = 0.6372 British pounds) (Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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