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Friday, December 11, 1998 Published at 09:43 GMT

Sport: Cricket

Inquiry as bookmaker scandal grows

Boos and cheers: Mark Waugh (left) with captain Mark Taylor

The Australian Cricket Board is to launch an independent inquiry into allegations that players other than Shane Warne and Mark Waugh have been approached by bookmakers.

New media reports suggest that former Australian Test cricketer Greg Matthews and New Zealand player Danny Morrison may also have been targetted by gamblers.

ACB Chairman Denis Rogers said: "The first thing to do is to expand our level of inquiry to make sure there aren't any sleepers around."

"Two former players said they were approached for information. In the context of these statements being made we want to make sure there aren't any sleepers in our environment again," he added.

All of Australia's 25 international players will be asked during the inquiry if they have been involved with bookmakers or match-fixing.

Fined for information

On Wednesday, batsman Waugh and star spinner Warne admitted receiving money for pitch and weather information from a bookmaker during Australia's 1994 tour of Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Both men were fined in 1995 by the ACB over the incident, but the board itself has been criticised for keeping the matter quiet for the last four years.

New Zealand's The Dominion newspaper reported that Morrison had been offered $1,000 by an Indian player to take a telephone call and provide information.

"I just looked at him and said: 'Are you serious?'," Morrison said.

'Man sidled up to me'

The Australian newspaper said on Friday that former Australia player Greg Matthews had been approached by a man in Sri Lanka in 1992 and offered money to provide information.

"I was having a beer in a bar when a gentleman sidled up next to me and the conversation was very much leading down that path," Matthews was quoted as saying.

As Waugh came out to bat in the third Test against England on Thursday he was variously booed and cheered by home supporters over his involvement in the scandal.

The incident has stoked so much controversy that Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been forced to issue a denial that the government is set to become involved in the inquiry.

PM's denial

Speaking to reporters, Mr Howard said: "That is a matter entirely for the Australian Cricket Board.

"Suggestions that ... some section of government should get involved are quite ridiculous."

Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has said that the betting scandal has been blown out of all proportion.

Imran said the episode was "trivial" and added: "The only confusion is why it has been declared so late, it's the Australian Cricket Board which is responsible for creating all this fuss."

Imran said he believed that what the Australian players had done did not even amount to a "fineable offence."

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