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Sutherland briefs stars about fixing claim

James Sutherland updated Steve Smith’s side after play on day one of the third Ashes Test regarding spot-fixing allegations, making it clear that Cricket Australia understands how players’ integrity has been questioned amid the “mudslinging”.

Players and officials in Perth awoke on Thursday to a report in British newspaper The Sun that claimed a spot-fixing attempt was due in the WACA Test.

The Sun published purportedly undercover video footage of bookmakers offering to sell details of rigged periods of play for betting purposes. The clip also contained claims of match-fixing and spot-fixing in the Big Bash League.

The International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption head Alex Marshall privately assured Sutherland in a morning conference call that no player or official involved in the game was under any suspicion or had been contacted by alleged fixers.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Sutherland passed on the message during a brief discussion on Thursday night.

“The players were briefed before the game and I spoke to our players after the game, just so that they understood the nature of the story but also the background as to how I was briefed,” Sutherland told ABC Radio.

“They certainly understand that we’re very strong, we all take a zero-tolerance approach to corruption.

“I wanted to make the point to the players that I understand any such allegation also undermines or takes question as to their own personal integrity.

“They know and understand how important it (anti-corruption) is to the game but also to their own personal integrity.”

Sutherland ended his speech by encouraging players to come forward with any questions about anti-corruption measures.

Players are understood to be largely nonplussed by the saga.

There is no disputing the threat of fixing is genuine in the sport – but the Ashes would be the most illogical series for corrupters to target given its high profile and well-paid stars.

“We certainly know what’s right and wrong. I know there’s nobody in that team who is involved in any of that,” keeper Tim Paine said after play on Thursday.

The ICC continues to probe The Sun’s claims – which involve several countries and several competitions.

“The story was really a bit of mudslinging at the game, in the hope that some of sticks,” Sutherland said.

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