Fixing claims rock cricket's Ashes series

Cricket chiefs voiced "grave concern" but said there was no evidence the third Ashes Test between Australia and England, which started yesterday, has been corrupted after a match-fixing bombshell rocked the series.

British newspaper The Sun alleged two bookmakers, including an Indian "Mr Big", had offered to sell it details of rigged periods in the Test in Perth which could be bet on to win huge sums.

One of them claimed to have worked on the scam with former and current internationals, including a World Cup-winning all-rounder.

They said they liaised with a fixer in Australian cricket known as "The Silent Man".No players were named as being involved.

The tabloid said their undercover reporters were asked for up to £140,000 (S$253,000) to "spot-fix" markets such as the number of runs scored in an over.

"Before match, I will tell you this over, this runs and then you have to put all the bets on that over," one of the bookmakers was quoted as saying.

Asked if it was a good source, he said: "Absolutely correct information."

The International Cricket Council said the revelations were of "grave concern" and a probe had been launched, but it did not believe the match, where England were 305 for four at stumps on the first day, had been tainted.

"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," said ICC anti-corruption chief Alex Marshall.

"At this stage of the investigation, there is no indication that any players in this Test have been in contact with the alleged fixers."

The Indian pair - secretly filmed at hotels in Dubai and Delhi during the paper's probe - claimed corrupt players would signal the fix was on by making gestures, such as changing gloves.

Spotters in the crowd would then relay the information to bookies to place illegal bets. - AFP