Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, has described as "baseless and outlandish" the claims heard in a London court that Australian players were the biggest match-fixers in the game. The court heard recordings made during last year's News of the World sting in which Mazhar Majeed, the agent and alleged fixing conspirator, claimed to act for Nathan Bracken and knew Ricky Ponting's manager.
Bracken's manager, Rob Horton, vehemently denied the claims and told the Daily Telegraph that his client was considering taking legal action in London to protect his name, while Ponting's manager, James Henderson, also dismissed the allegations. Sutherland said he was confident that if the ICC had any inkling of fixing by Australian players, he would have been aware of it.
"There is nothing that I have at hand to suggest that these are anything but baseless and outlandish allegations," Sutherland said. "I'm very confident that through my dealings with the ICC that if there was issues of concern or players who were being monitored or looked at closely that I would understand more about that. The ICC have not told me of anything and on that basis I'm very confident that these are nothing but baseless and outlandish.
"These sweeping statements unfairly malign Australian cricketers. If there is one skerrick of evidence we will investigate Australian players. But in my dealings with the ICC I'm very confident that I would know and I would understand if there were concerns about Australian players, or allegations about players, or investigations afoot in regard to Australian players. I have heard none of that."
Sutherland said he would speak to ICC officials on Tuesday about the claims. He said if any Australian player was found to have taken part in match-fixing, Cricket Australia would have no hesitation in issuing a life ban from the game.
"There's no doubt that the game needs to continue to be vigilant," he said. "The publicity around this is a very clear reminder that there are people out there who want to corrupt the game. It's very important that we take a position to protect players and officials and the sport itself from being anything but a proper contest.
"If there is any issue or any concern, we will investigate them. If we charge players and we find them guilty, we will have no qualms about issuing a life sentence on players who are found guilty of match-fixing."
Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said it was "appalling" that the reputations of Australian players had been stained by "someone with a highly questionable reputation".
"Let's not forget that all of our matches are scrutinised by the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit and there is no evidence whatsoever of Australian players being involved in any form of match fixing," Marsh said. "In the event that any meaningful, credible information came to light on this issue, we would welcome an investigation, however unless this occurs we should view these allegations as baseless.
"Australian cricketers are very well educated about the dangers and consequences of match and spot fixing, and have a strong history in reporting incidents where they have received suspicious approaches. The players and the ACA believe there is no place in the game for match fixing and support the strong penalties in place under the respective ICC and Cricket Australia codes."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo