9 December 1998

Waugh, Warne speak on bookies scandal

Rick Eyre for CricInfo

Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were fined by the Australian Cricket Board in February 1995 for giving information to an illegal Indian bookmaker during the Australian tour of Sri Lanka in September 1994.

The events remained secret until Tuesday night Australian time, four years later. Their disclosure has rocked Australian cricket and badly dented the country's cricketing reputation overseas.

The revelation began early on Tuesday evening when the Australian Cricket Board released a brief statement saying that two unnamed players had been fined in 1994 for receiving money from an Indian bookmaker. A short while later, former Australian player David Hookes, speaking on his nightly talk show on Melbourne radio, named Waugh and Warne as the two players involved.

It was revealed later that night that "The Australian" newspaper, following a lengthy investigation, were reporting the events of 1994-1995 on the front page of Wednesday's edition. The ACB had been advised by the newspaper on Tuesday afternoon, and it was after this that the Board released its initial statement.

This afternoon in Adelaide, where the Australian team is preparing for Friday's Third Test against England, Waugh, Warne, and Mal Speed (Australian Cricket Board CEO) held a press conference. Waugh and Warne read prepared statements and then left without taking media questions. Speed, who joined the ACB in 1997 after previously being chief executive of the National Basketball League, then read a prepared statement from Alan Crompton, ACB chairman at the time of the disciplinary action against Waugh and Warne.

The sequence of events, as reported by Wednesday morning's newspapers in Australia and through the statements of the players and officials:

During the 1994 Australian tour of Sri Lanka for the Singer World Series, Waugh and Warne state they were approached by a man who they later learned to be a bookmaker from India. The man asked them "routine" questions about pitch and weather conditions in return for payment. Waugh received $ 6000 and Warne $ 5000. Both players stated that they did not give information about team lineup or tactics.

Waugh went on to say that he "did not see the implications of offering such information, which I thought to be mundane and exactly the same as any pre-match media interview."

Speed said today that the ACB had heard rumours in early 1995 of involvement of Australian players in dealings with bookmakers.

Waugh said that he had been asked in early 1995 by an ACB investigation if he had ever received money from a bookmaker, at which point he replied that he had done so the year before. Warne was also found to have received money from bookmakers. No other players on the tour were implicated.

As a result of the investigation, Waugh was fined $ 10,000 and Warne $ 8000 - the fines both being set in excess of the money received from the bookies. The penalties were issued in February 1995, after Australia's short tour of New Zealand and before the team headed for the West Indies. Both players stated that they had paid their fines immediately.

The ACB's action in disciplining the two players was reported immediately to the ICC. Sir Clyde Walcott, who was ICC chairman at the time, speaking on television from Barbados today, confirmed that the ICC had received notification from the ACB at the time. Walcott said that the ACB had requested that the matter be kept confidential.

Crompton, in his statement, said that the events were regarded as an internal discplinary matter between the ACB and the players. "The ACB on rare occasions had cause to discipline players and it was the policy of the ACB to do this privately and without media announcement," Crompton said.

There has been no suggestion from anyone, including the media who have been investigating this story, that either Mark Waugh or Shane Warne were involved in bribery or the fixing of. Both players, in reading their prepared statements today, said their actions were "naive and stupid".

Speed reiterated today that there would be no further action taken against the two players, saying that disciplinary action had been taken at the time and that the matter was closed.

Among other reaction today, Dean Jones, who had previously said that he had been approached with a "biscuit tin full" of money on the 1992 tour of Sri Lanka to give information (which he declined), defended the reputation of the two players.

David Boon, who was on the 1994 tour alongside Waugh and Warne, talking at a press conference in Hobart, refused to comment on whether he was approached by bookmakers on that tour or whether he knew of other players who had been. "It's nothing to do with me," Boon said.

The episode has caused acute embarrassment to Australian cricketing authorities. Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were among Australian players who complained during the 1994 tour of Pakistan (which immediately followed the Sri Lankan series) had offered them a large sum of money to arrange for members of the Australian team to play badly during the Test series. Waugh testified to Justice Qayyum's investigation of various match-fixing and betting allegations when the Australian team was in Pakistan recently.

Speed said today that he acknowledged that Australian cricket's reputation was tarnished by the episode. He said he expected that the matter would be on the agenda of the ICC's next executive meeting in Christchurch on January 10-11.