Australian cricket team deny spot-fixing allegations

The Australian team has rubbished a report that its two opening batsmen, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, have been scrutinised for potential spot-fixing in the cricket World Cup match against Zimbabwe.

India\'s national wire service, the Press Trust of India, reported that the International Cricket Council has launched an investigation into the Australian pair because of their slow-scoring start in the match against Zimbabwe on February 21 - although it erroneously reported it related to the Australia-New Zealand match on February 25. Specifically, it alleged the spot-fixing element related to Australia only making five runs in the first two overs.

Australian team manager Steve Bernard, who last week had to contend with false stories in the Indian media that Australia captain Ricky Ponting had smashed a TV with his bat, said the story was \"the silliest thing I\'ve heard this week - and I\'ve heard a lot of silly things since I\'ve been here\".

\"I\'ve just heard the story a moment ago and I\'m not sure how to respond, except to say it would make a cat laugh. It\'s the most ludicrous thing I\'ve ever heard in my life that a side can be 0-5 after two overs and that that\'s suspicious,\" Bernard said in Colombo, Sri Lanka, during a training session.

\"At the start of any campaign, on a fresh track that the guys weren\'t used to, it took a bit of time [to adjust] but 260-odd was a pretty good score.

\"I\'m not sure if it\'s a make-up story by someone being a bit adventurous or a bit malicious . . . but I don\'t pay it any credence.\"

While Zimbabwe is ranked 11th in the world for one-day international cricket, its spinner Ray Price - who opened the bowling against Australia - is ranked the fourth-best bowler in the world in that format.

The PTI story quoted an unnamed source\'s that the ICC\'s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) was \"taking no chances at all and all matches are under the scanner for possible indications that any spot-fixing has taken place\", because of the fall-out of the guilty verdicts against Pakistan trio Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.

The ICC says it does not comment on any ACSU matter, including whether or not a match had or had not been investigated, as a matter of policy.

Haddin is expected to address the allegations after the Australian\'s team\'s training session is completed.