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England reject Al Jazeera’s cricket fixing allegations as ICC launches probe

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London :Australia and England on Monday rejected fresh allegations about corruption in cricket by television news channel Al Jazeera, which claimed there had been 26 spot-fixing incidents in 15 international matches.

In a follow-up documentary to one aired earlier this year, the Qatari-based broadcaster reported on Sunday that a small group of England players allegedly cheated in seven games between 2011 and 2012.

It claimed Australian players were similarly involved in five matches over the same period, Pakistan players in three and players from other, unidentified teams in one match.

 

“In some cases, both teams appear to have delivered a fix,” it said, pointing to purported recordings of a match-fixer calling in the fixes to a notorious Indian bookmaker linked to organised crime.

It alleged that the suspected fixes were usually carried out by batsmen who agreed to under-perform.

Among the matches cited were England against India at Lord’s, South Africa versus Australia in Cape Town, and several games during England’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Take a look: ICC warns England, Sri Lanka players of match-fixing ahead of tour

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said it had launched an investigation and would work with professional independent betting analysts.

“The ICC is committed to working to uphold integrity in cricket,” said the head of the governing body’s anti-corruption unit Alex Marshall.

“As you would expect we will again take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make seriously and will investigate fully.”

The ICC also launched a probe after the original Al Jazeera documentary and in August Marshall said “we have been able to discount a number of claims made in the programme and continue to pursue other aspects”.

That documentary alleged corruption among Australia and England players in games in 2016 and 2017.

Those claims were dismissed by both countries, with the latest documentary sparking a similar response from Cricket Australia (CA) and the England Cricket Board (ECB).

“Cricket Australia takes a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game, and to suggest anything otherwise is unsubstantiated and incorrect,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said on Monday. “We have full confidence in our players in also protecting the game.”

Prior to the latest broadcast, CA’s Integrity Unit conducted a review of the claims, which it said came from a “known criminal source”.

“From the limited information provided by Al Jazeera, our team have not identified any issues of corruption by any current or former player,” said Sutherland.

The ECB was also adamant that the claims lacked credibility.

“Whilst the limited information we have been given by Al Jazeera is poorly prepared and lacks clarity and corroboration, it has been properly assessed,” it said in a statement.

“Analysis of this by the ECB integrity team has cast no doubt on the integrity or behaviour of any England player, current or former.”


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Focus on short formats alone will lead to problems: Virat

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Adelaide: Virat Kohli is peerless in ODI cricket but he has a priceless message for youngsters — focus on limited-overs formats shouldn’t be an “excuse” for not being able to cope with the challenges of Test cricket. The world’s No. 1 batsman with 25 Test hundreds warned that youngsters will have mental problems if they don’t embrace the pristine form of five-day cricket. “If we focus too much on shorter formats — yes, they’re important — but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents, then I think there will a mental problem with upcoming cricketers,” said Kohli.

The Indian skipper, who has played defining knocks against world class bowlers like Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Mitchell Starc and Kagiso Rabada during the past year, spoke about the hard work that goes into the making of a quality Test player.

“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work — if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team — I think that is what people should prepare (youngsters for),” he said.

 

Kohli said the current batch of Indian Test cricketers was trying to set an example for the younger generation. “That (vision) will require the team to lay out certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So (when) the next lot comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow.”

Kohli has reaffirmed his commitment towards Test cricket, saying he wants India to become a superpower in the game’s longest format. “I wouldn’t say a goal but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come,” he said.

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Ganguly backs Pandya and Rahul, says ‘humans make mistakes’

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Mumbai:Former Indian cricket team skipper Sourav Ganguly has defended cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, following a controversy over their appearance on a television chat show. The former skipper and legendary cricketer defended the players, saying, “people make mistakes but everyone should move on and ensure it doesn`t happen again”.

Asked if modern day cricketers should be responsible while giving statements on a public platform as a whole lot of youngsters look up to them, Ganguly said “I haven’t watched that episode. I feel that you can’t generalise that only modern day cricketers should behave responsibly. People make mistakes. Let’s not get too far into that. I am sure whoever has done it will realise that and come out as a better person. We are all human beings. We are not machines that everything you put in comes out perfect. You have just got to live life and let others live. They are responsible people. They may be role models but they are under pressure all the time to perform. Certain things happen in life and as everyone, we should move on and make sure that it doesn`t happen again.”

When asked if he feels modern day cricketers of India aren’t responsible in their behaviour as compared to the past generation of cricketers, Ganguly said “I feel modern day cricketers are also responsible, disciplined and obedient. In life, certain things happen and you make some mistakes so, let`s not get too far into that.

 

Look at Virat Kohli, he is such a fantastic role model. India is a fortunate country. Every generation produces players who all of us cherish.”

He said India has produced great cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli over the years.

“There was Sunil Gavaskar and when he retired, people thought who is next, then Sachin Tendulkar came and when Tendulkar retired, people again asked who is next then people saw Virat Kohli. So, we are a very fortunate country in terms of sports and a lot of these cricketers are fantastic human beings because they come from very middle class backgrounds and fight their way up.”

Ganguly made the remark while speaking at the trailer launch of the Hindi film “22 Yards”, with the cast members Barun Sobti, Geetika Tyagi, Chaiti Ghoshal and director Mitali Ghoshal on Wednesday.

On questioned, about who he would like to see playing his role, if a biopic is made on his life, Ganguly replied “It is difficult for me to answer that question because I haven`t thought about a biopic on my life. People should first make a biopic of other sports personalities and if people have an interest in my biopic, then we will see.”

He added, “I really liked the biopic of Milkha Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The film on Sachin Tendulkar was a bit different. Now, I have heard that the film on India`s 1983 World Cup win is being made. I feel that was a great time for Indian cricket, so I am looking forward to see that film. As far as my biopic is concerned, we will wait and see as at the moment I haven`t thought about it.”

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Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech to retire at end of season

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London: Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech announced that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old, who won four Premier League titles with Chelsea, revealed his decision on Twitter.

He wrote: “This is my 20th season as a professional player and it is 20 years since I signed my first professional contract, so it feels like the right time to announce that I will retire at the end of this season.”

 

The Czech, who arrived in the Premier League with Chelsea in 2004 and moved to Arsenal in 2015, added: “Having played 15 years in the Premier League and won every single trophy possible, I feel like I have achieved everything I set out to achieve.

“I will continue to work hard at Arsenal to hopefully win one more trophy this season, then I am looking forward to seeing what life holds for me off the pitch.”

Cech joined Arsenal in 2015 and has made 129 appearances for the Gunners after winning multiple trophies at rivals Chelsea.

Signed from Rennes by Claudio Ranieri in 2004, Cech won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League, the Europa League and three League Cups with the Blues.

Cech suffered a serious head injury in 2006 following a collision with Reading’s Stephen Hunt.

Hunt’s knee crashed into Cech’s head, leaving him with a fractured skull, but he returned to action four months later wearing what became his trademark protective headgear.

Cech became the first goalkeeper to keep 200 Premier League clean sheets in Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Watford last season, during which he saved a penalty from Troy Deeney.

He is also the Czech Republic’s most capped player, making 124 appearances.

Cech is no longer first choice at Arsenal, with Bernd Leno preferred for most of this season so far, but the club were quick to pay their own tribute.

Arsenal tweeted: “For your consummate professionalism, for being the perfect role model, for the 50 clean sheets, for your honesty, your integrity and for your inspiring work with @AFC_Foundation, we want to say … Thank you, @PetrCech!”

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