England captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss both described allegations their side fixed aspects of a Test against India at Chennai in 2016 as “outrageous”.
After England’s nine-wicket defeat by Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s on Sunday, Root was asked to comment on the allegations made in a programme about spot-fixing to be broadcast later Sunday by the Al Jazeera television channel.
“I am aware that there is a documentary and it is outrageous that our players have been accused,” Root told the BBC.
The Yorkshireman was now more concerned with ensuring England bounce back strongly in next week’s second Test of a two-match series at his Headingley home ground.
“It’s not anything for the guys to worry about, we have to focus on winning at Headingley.”
In a separate post-match press conference, Root said the allegations were “ridiculous”.
“All the players have been briefed by the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), and been told there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.”
The top-order batsman put his faith in the International Cricket Council to judge the worth of the Al Jazeera documentary, adding: “I’ve just been told to strongly deny the accusations, because it sounds quite ridiculous really.
“It’s for the ICC to sort out –- they’re the people in charge — and if there’s anything to it they’ll look into it.
“But I’ve been told there’s nothing to worry about,” Root insisted.
Bayliss was similarly forthright in a separate interview with Sky Sports.
“Outrageous,” said the England coach, when asked about the fixing claims.
“I knew a documentary was going to be coming out. I wouldn’t have a clue what’s in it yet, or seen it.
“But, having been there (at the Chennai Test), outrageous is all I can say,” the Australian added.
England lost that Test in Chennai by an innings and 75 runs.
– ‘No credible evidence’ –
Root and Bayliss’s words were endorsed by ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, who said neither his organisation nor the ICC had “any credible evidence” of corruption involving England players.
“There is nothing we have seen that would make us doubt any of our players in any way whatsoever,” Harrison said in a board statement issued Sunday.
“The limited information we have been given has been discussed with all the England players.
“They emphatically deny the allegations, have stated categorically that the claims are false and they have our full support.”
Harrison added: “Neither ECB nor the ICC is aware of any credible evidence connecting any England players to any form of corruption.
“ECB had been aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary for some time but have not been given the full content.
“There have been repeated requests for any evidence and unedited materials to be shared with the ICC so they can fully investigate.”
He said the ECB was “disappointed” that Al Jazeera had not been “more cooperative and responsible”.
“ECB has a regular dialogue with the ICC and its anti-corruption unit, fully supports its work and will continue to cooperate with their review.”
The documentary alleged the Chennai fixture had fallen prey to spot-fixing, where specific incidents in games can be manipulated to achieve betting coups without the more complicated task of corrupting one side or another to lose a match on purpose.
The programme also contained allegations of match-fixing in games featuring both England and Australia in Sri Lanka.
The ICC said Saturday it took the allegations reported by Al Jazeera “very seriously” and urged “all evidence and supporting material” to be shared with its own anti-corruption unit.