Indian bookies targeted Watson, Haddin
Cricket Australia has confirmed that Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson were approached by an illegal Indian bookmaker – alongside Shane Watson and Brad Haddin – when on tour in England last year.
Watson and wicketkeeper Haddin spoke for the first time on Tuesday about Australia’s tour where they were contacted at their hotels and asked out for dinner and drinks by a man later discovered to be a bookmaker.
CA later said former quick Lee and left-armer Johnson had been approached by the same man, using a similar modus operandi, while team manager Steve Bernard admitted there were two other separate suspicious approaches made to Australian players during his ten years in the job.
Watson said he initially thought he was dealing with a knowledgable fan rather than an illegal Indian bookmaker.
The blond allrounder said he was first approached in the breakfast room of the exclusive Royal Garden hotel in London where the bookmaker praised the 29-year-old’s form.
“It was an Indian fan, or that’s what I thought it was, who knew a lot about me and what I was doing in the IPL,” Watson said.
“(He) was only too kind with his praise about how I’ve been playing and he enjoyed the way I played and then it got down to a bit more `we’d like to take you out for drinks’ and that sort of thing.
“I didn’t think too much more of it until I found out a bit more information and that he was actually one of the illegal bookmakers.”
Watson was insistent that he had never discussed any specific match-fixing details with the bookmaker, and that the conversations had been “fairly friendly” but “a little bit different to just a general Indian fan who enjoys what you do”.
“It wasn’t an approach about a game or anything in that regard,” Watson explained.
“It was just a slightly different approach compared to what it normally is when someone comes up and has a chat to you.
“We’re very well educated about what we can and can’t do. We know exactly where the line is, and it’s a very obvious line of what goes on.”
Haddin was approached separately, with an Indian man coming to the wicket-keeper’s hotel room while he was talking to his wife on Skype.
“I got a knock on my door from someone asking if I wanted to come across to their room to have a drink, which I thought was a bit odd,” Haddin explained.
“So I shut the door and got back onto Skype with my wife and said ‘that was odd, I’ll call you back’.
The unusual encounter raised Haddin’s suspicions and he immediately alerted team manager Steve Bernard and the ICC’s security manager John Rhodes of the suspicious behaviour.
“I quickly rang Steve Bernard and John Rhodes just to tell them something weird had just happened,” Haddin explained.
“You don’t usually get a knock on your door with someone asking you to come across to your room for a drink and then go out for dinner with someone you don’t know.
“They checked footage of who the person was and it was someone that they were well aware of. I’d never seen the person (before) or never heard from him or seen him since.”
The revelations come after Pakistan players were implicated in a major betting scandal against England during the fourth Test, the spotlight also shining on Australia’s remarkable comeback Test win over the Pakistanis at the SCG in Sydney.
A Pakistan court Tuesday summoned seven national cricket players, the country’s sports minister and its cricket chief to face treason charges over fixing allegations in England.© AAP 2013
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