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  Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 01:34 GMT
Gooch: Truth hard to find
Alec Stewart and Graham Gooch
Stewart and Gooch: Teammates in Australia, 1994
Former England captain Graham Gooch has given a sceptical response to news that several leading players have been implicated in a new report into cricket corruption.

The report, prepared by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, names players from most of the senior Test-playing nations, including England's Alec Stewart.

"They've obviously done a thorough investigation, but you don't know how much of this is just mud slinging, trying to bring other people into these things or whether there's any truth in it," Gooch told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"You don't know whether this is just bringing other people from other countries into the net to sort of widen the issue, to make it seem like it's not just a problem in one particular part of the world."

Alec Stewart
Stewart: In the nets in Pakistan

Gooch said he found it hard to believe that Stewart would have been involved, adding: "You couldn't get a more dedicated and patriotic cricketer to the England cause."

Former West Indian skipper Brian Lara, Australians Dean Jones and Mark Waugh, Martin Crowe of New Zealand and Sri Lanka's Arjune Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva are other high-profile names included in the report.

Indians Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia also feature, along with South African Hansie Cronje, whose confession that he accepted money from bookmkares in return for match information sparked the CBI inquiry.

"Mark Waugh and Shane Warne, a few years ago, admitted they took money for seemingly harmless information about the pitch conditions and team selection and I believe this is the substance of these allegations.

Mark Waugh
Mark Waugh: Admitted receiving money from a bookmaker in 1994

"Whether Alec was involved in that years and years ago, I don't know. But as I say, I find it very difficult to believe because over the last decade he's certainly been England's most influential cricketer," said Gooch.

He played in 118 Test matches and 125 one-day internationals and insisted he had never been approached for information.

The report could lead to a full inquiry by the International Cricket Council, who recently introduced a code of conduct for players and officials.

"I suppose they'll have to investigate and take statements from the people that are mentioned, but I am a little bit sceptical," Gooch added.

"Anyone's name could be mentioned. The difficulty with all this match-fixing is you don't know where the truth lies."

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