SYDNEY // Cricket's image has been sullied by recent betting scandals and the sport's governing body must move quickly to confront the issue, Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, said yesterday. Speaking as his team prepared to depart for a two-Test tour to India, Ponting said he had no doubt allegations levelled against Pakistan during their current tour to England had harmed cricket. He added that his team had a role to play in redeeming the sport's damaged reputation.
"The events of the last couple of weeks have had a big impact, I'm sure, around the world on the way that the game is viewed, but that's completely out of our hands," Ponting said. "As an Australian cricket team, all we can do is play the best brand of cricket and the most attractive brand of cricket that we can play, day in and day out. "It's important that we do that over the next few weeks, realising that [India] is the No 1-ranked team in the world against Australia."
Ponting said all international cricketers should strive to improve cricket's tarnished image. "I think if we all do the right thing on the field, hopefully there will be something positive coming back on the newspaper pages about the game of cricket, which is what we will try and achieve," he said. "Unfortunately for Pakistan at the moment now, the situation that they are in, there's going to be those sort of allegations ... for quite a while I think. The ICC [International Cricket Council] need to be doing whatever they can to get on top of these things as quickly as possible and deal with them as quickly as possible.
"They've done a pretty good job over the last few weeks already and with this latest allegation, hopefully they will get to the bottom of this pretty quick as well." British police and the ICC are investigating newspaper allegations made against Pakistan players during their tour to England over alleged involvement in spot-fixing. The most recent allegations concern the third one-day international between England and Pakistan on Friday.
Salman Butt, the captain, and fast bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, returned to Pakistan after the News of the World newspaper earlier raised questions about the actions of the players in last month's Test against England at Lord's. The newspaper claimed Aamer and Asif deliberately bowled no balls at specific times during the match. * Associated Press