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England spot-fixing claims draw defiant ECB response

The idea that three England cricketers spot-fixed a test match in India 18 months ago has been described as “outrageous” by Head Coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Joe Root.

Doha broadcaster Al Jazeera has alleged that Bayliss’ side deliberately batted defensively for a short passage of the fifth test against India, which took place in Chennai in December 2016.

According to Al Jazeera, middle man Aneel Munawar, said to work for a syndicate that controls much of the $60 billion a year illegal market in India, spent 18 months posing as a wealthy businessman to speak to members of criminal gangs in India involved in spot-fixing. It says these gangs were filmed on a hidden camera giving details of how they paid professional cricketers to fix parts of matches.

Names of those allegedly involved are only stated by Munawar after the event but, like the specific information regarding which overs were allegedly manipulated, these are redacted in the final edit. Munawar is confronted by Al Jazeera’s reporter at the end of documentary, but leaves the room without comment.

Having been made public by the Qatar broadcaster in a ‘Cricket Match-Fixers’ documentary over the weekend, the allegation sparked a defiant response from ECB Chairman Tom Harrison.

He said: “There is nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever. 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. Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption.”

Bayliss, who took over as Head Coach of the team in 2015, told Sky Sports: “Outrageous. I knew a documentary was going to be coming out. I wouldn’t have a clue what’s in it yet, or seen it. But, having been there [at the Chennai Test], outrageous is all I can say.”

Root, who only assumed the captaincy from Alastair Cook in early 2017, added: “I am aware that there is a documentary and it is outrageous that our players have been accused. All the players have the full backing of the ECB.”

A similar claim of spot-fixing is also made regarding two Australia players during the third Test against India in Ranchi last year. Cricket Australia responded before the documentary’s full broadcast with a statement from their chief executive James Sutherland who, like the ECB, dismissed the claims by saying there was “no credible evidence”.

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