The Int'l Cricket Council "swung into action quickly" on Thursday to "shoot down allegations of match fixing in the Ashes series," but was "forced to admit it would need to investigate the wide-ranging claims more thoroughly," according to Peter Lalor of THE AUSTRALIAN. British newspaper The Sun published the allegations "just hours before the third Test was due to begin," but by the time the captains met in the middle, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland stood outside the WACA Ground and said that the ICC was confident there was "no evidence, no substance and no justification" to the claims. The ICC was informed before publication and "launched an immediate investigation." When England captain Joe Root said at the toss that it was “sad this has been written” on the eve of the match, the "onus of proof had shifted back" to The Sun and the protagonists in its story. The paper identified two alleged fixers as ex-Indian state cricketer Sobers Joban and his partner Priyank Saxena, a tobacco businessman and bookmaker, who the newspaper "secretly filmed at hotels in Dubai and Delhi during a four-month investigation." Filmed by undercover reporters for the newspaper, the pair "claimed to have been able to give information on spot fixes" -- amounts of runs, when wickets would fall -- in the Perth Test for "large amounts of money" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/15). In Sydney, Ben Horne reported Sutherland said that it was "illogical" to think that modern day Australian cricketers -- the highest paid in the world -- "could be vulnerable to relatively small bribes." He said, "It certainly seems to be a bit of a scatter-gun story. There is almost a whole lot of mud being thrown out there. I think what is really important for the sake of the game is the integrity of the contest. An Ashes Series has so much at stake" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/14).
'THE SILENT MAN': The BBC reported the story in The Sun stated that a gang working with an Australian called "the Silent Man" was charging up to £138,000 ($185,408) to influence the game. No England players were named as being involved but the gang claimed to have "recruited one former Australian player." Australia captain Steve Smith said, "As far as I know, there's nothing that's been going on or anything like that. There's no place for that in our game." It is unclear how the bookmakers proposed to fix the Test, although, according to the newspaper, one told Sun investigators he could "get players to follow 'scripts' -- such as how many runs would be scored in a session, or an innings, when a wicket will fall and what a team would do if it won the toss" (BBC, 12/14). In Sydney, Barrett, Wu & Bungard reported ICC Anti-Corruption Unit GM Alex Marshall collected a dossier of evidence on a USB stick from The Sun "soon after the story went online" at 10pm local time in London, which was 6am in Perth. Marshall, having perused the evidence, said that while an investigation would take place into the "wide-ranging" allegations across several countries and competitions, there was "nothing to substantiate the claim that the third Test had been targeted by fixers." He said, "From my initial assessment of the material, there is no evidence, either from The Sun or via our own intelligence, to suggest the current test match has been corrupted" (THE AGE, 12/14).