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Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said the performances of his players in last year's Sydney Test against Pakistan would be tainted if the allegations of match-fixing surrounding that game turn out to be true. Ponting was reacting to murmurs about the Sydney game following the scandal unfolding at Lord's where Pakistan's players were alleged to have indulged in spot-fixing by a News of the World sting operation.
"The way we won was one of the more satisfying moments that I've had on the cricket field," Ponting told ABC Radio. "And now when some of these things come to light is when you start to slightly doubt some of the things that have happened."
Australia won the Test by 36 runs after conceding a first innings lead of 206. In their second innings, Australia were 49 runs ahead with just two wickets in hand, but managed to extend their advantage to 176 thanks to an obstinate 123-run ninth-wicket partnership between Michael Hussey and Peter Siddle. Pakistan then floundered badly against Nathan Hauritz, whose five-wicket haul ensured the tourists fell agonisingly short in their pursuit.
"The thing that I'm most worried about if any of this is proven to be true is some of the individual performances that took place in that game," Ponting said. "You look at Mike Hussey's second innings hundred and Peter Siddle's batting and the way he was with Mike Hussey that day and Nathan Hauritz taking five wickets on the final day to win us the game. All of those individual milestones will be tainted as well."
Ponting said he had no inclination that anything was amiss at the time but the manner of Pakistan's capitulation raised more than a few eyebrows and the Test was investigated by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, which found no evidence of match-fixing.
Meawhile Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland also said he believes the Sydney Test was clean and that Australia won the game on merit. He reacted to the news of the alleged spot-fixing by calling for a thorough investigation into the incident by both the UK police and the ICC.
"It is critical for cricket that the public has confidence in the integrity of the outcomes of games," Sutherland said, "which is why CA and other ICC members have supported the significant world cricket investment in anti-corruption over the last decade or more."
While admitting he was not aware of the details of the News of the World sting operation, Sutherland said such incidents are the reason the ICC must remain ever vigilant.
"As Lord Paul Condon, the founder of the ICC anti-corruption process has always said, vigilance can never be relaxed."