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England, Australia back players over match-fixing allegations

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LONDON (Reuters) – England and Australia have backed their players following allegations of corruption in the sport made in a documentary to be aired by news organisation Al Jazeera on Sunday.

The programme “Cricket’s Match Fixers” is understood to allege details of a plan to fix England’s scheduled test match against Sri Lanka in Galle in November and Australia’s test against Sri Lanka at the same venue in 2016.

Match-fixing has become a major concern for the sport in recent years and the International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched an investigation.

“There is nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever,” England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Chief Executive Officer Tom Harrison said in a statement on Sunday.

“The limited information we have been given has been discussed with all the England players.

“They emphatically deny the allegations, have stated categorically that the claims are false and they have our full support,” Harrison added.

“Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption.”

England captain Joe Root reacted strongly to the allegations.

“It’s outrageous that England players have been accused of this,” Root said after his team’s nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the first test at Lord’s.

The Australian newspaper reported on Saturday that the Al Jazeera documentary will allege that spot-fixers bribed the Galle groundsman to doctor the pitch used for the second test between Sri Lanka and Australia in 2016.

“Together with the ICC, we are aware of the investigation by Al Jazeera into alleged corruption in cricket,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.

“Neither the ICC or Cricket Australia is aware of any credible evidence linking Australian players to corruption in the game,” Sutherland added.

“Although not having been provided an opportunity to view the documentary or any raw footage, our long-standing position on these matters is that credible claims will be treated very seriously and fully investigated.  “Cricket Australia will continue to fully co-operate with the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit in its review of the matter.”

(Reporting by Ed Osmond, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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