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Sunday, September 12, 1999 Published at 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK

Sport: Cricket

England cricketers 'offered £1m bribe'

The alleged scam focused on the recent third test against New Zealand

Scotland Yard is investigating allegations that members of the England cricket team were offered almost £1m to throw a recent Test match.

The inquiry follows reports in the News of the World that former England player Chris Lewis was approached by an Indian-based betting syndicate about the third Test match against New Zealand at Old Trafford last month.

[ image: Lewis: 'Alerted the authorities']
Lewis: 'Alerted the authorities'
A police spokesman said: "An allegation of attempted corruption was reported by a player to the England and Wales Cricket Board on 3 August.

"The England and Wales Cricket Board passed the information on to the police and an investigation by the organised crime group is under way.

"We are not prepared to discuss this any further."

£300,000 a player

According to the News of the World, Lewis was approached by a representative of the syndicate in a newsagent's near his family home in Harlesden, north London, a few days before the match.

[ image: Mullally: Unaware]
Mullally: Unaware
Lewis was allegedly asked to persuade wicket-keeper Alec Stewart to miss catches, and bowler Alan Mullally to bowl wide and drop as many balls as possible.

All three players would have earned £300,000, it was reported.

However, veteran Leicestershire player Lewis, who was dropped from the England side last year after turning up late for a Test, was shocked by the proposals and alerted the authorities.

Neither Stewart nor Mullally is said to have been aware of the bribe attempt. In the event, Stewart did not keep wicket in the match and Mullally was not picked to play.

England eventually drew the game, but lost the fourth Test and therefore the series, becoming the lowest-ranked of all the Test-playing countries.

Former England team captain Mike Gatting told GMTV: "I was quite surprised that someone asked the England team to throw matches.

"I just hope someone if they were approached would do what Chris Lewis has done."

International problem

It is not the first time allegations of corruption at international level in the sport have been made.

[ image: Stewart: syndicate
Stewart: syndicate "wanted him to drop catches"
Last week, Pakistan captain Wasim Akram and fellow team players Ijaz Ahmed and Salim Malik were cleared of match-rigging.

Australian cricket was cleared of involvement in match-fixing and bribery in February this year, following a two-month inquiry.

The English Cricket Board and International Cricket Council are to meet for an international conference within the next few days.

The conference is likely to look at the threat of corruption in cricket.

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