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January 8, 1999


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Waugh, Warne admit taking bookmakers cash

Australian cricket star Shane Warne said he took US $ 5,000 from an Indian bookmaker he met at a casino, believing there were "no strings attached.''

Warne told the special session of the Pakistan government inquiry into match-fixing that a man known to him only as John gave him the money the day after they met at the casino.

"I was naive and stupid,'' Warne told the inquiry at the Victorian civil and administrative tribunal building in King Street, Melbourne.

Warne and Waugh gave evidence to Abdus Salam Khawar, registrar at the Lahore high court, who represents Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum, the judge in charge of the inquiry.

Warne's teammate Mark Waugh also testified that he received US $ 4,000 from John on the same tour. Waugh supplied information on the pitch conditions and weather information, but denied he also gave information on team matters.

Warne and Waugh were fined by the Australian Cricket Board in 1995 over the payments. The matter was kept secret until last month and Waugh did not mention it when he faced the Pakistan inquiry in Lahore last year.

In 1994, Waugh and Warne claim they were offered $ 200,000 by then Pakistan captain Salim Malik. The pair repeated the allegations yesterday during cross examination from Malik's lawyer, Azmat Saeed.

Warne said he had been introduced to John by Waugh at a casino in Sri Lanka in 1994. John approached Warne the next day and told him he had noticed that he had lost money at the casino and that he was his favourite player.

Warne told the inquiry John had given him an envelope containing the money, which he had at first rejected.

"I told him I didn't want it, but he said he would be offended, I told him again that I didn't want it but he insisted,'' Warne said. "I said good luck, see you later and left his room.''

Warne said he had never seen the man again, although John had contacted him several times with requests for information on weather and pitch conditions before matches in Australia.

Waugh told the inquiry that he was paid $ 4,000 to supply weather and pitch information about ten times to the same Indian bookmaker.

Waugh said he had no knowledge that a match between Australia and Pakistan in Sri Lanka during the 1994 Singer Cup had been rigged.

Pakistani Cricket Board lawyer Ali Sibtain Fazli said the inquiry had heard from a Pakistani bookmaker that the game, where Australia scored 179-7 but won comfortably, was fixed.

The inquiry will continue tomorrow with evidence from Tim May, another player who accused Malik of trying to bribe him during the 1994 series, and the then ACB chairman Alan Crompton.

Waugh was abused by a spectator during a break in the hearing. Shortly after the stylish right-hander had completed his evidence, a man approached him, brandishing a copy of his written statement.

Waving it at Waugh, the man accused the batsman of lying about the amount of money he had accepted from John. Waugh's counsel Michael Shatin called a security guard to remove the man who was, however, allowed to remain in the room for the rest of the hearing.

The hearing, part of the Pakistan inquiry into allegations of matchfixing, has moved to Melbourne to hear evidence from Waugh, Warne and Australian cricket officials.

Waugh said Malik had approached him during the Singer Cup and offered the money "if I could get four or five players to play below their best and lose the game."

"I was shocked," Waugh told the inquiry. "There is a big difference between information about weather and pitch conditions and fixing a game of cricket."

Under cross examination by Fazli, Waugh said he had been approached by John in Colombo in September 1994. John said he had "a business proposition" and Waugh had gone to see him in his hotel room.

Asked why he had gone to meet John, Waugh replied: "Bookmaking is legal in Australia. As far as I know, he is only involved with betting. I have no idea if he was involved in match fixing." He admitted he was a regular gambler on sport, but never on cricket. "I am very fond of horse racing and I bet on horses. I also bet on golf and rugby league, but I've never had a bet on cricket."

Waugh started his testimony by reading a statement that outlined how he had accepted an offer from John during the Sri Lankan tournament to provide information on pitch and weather conditions. He said that was all the information he was prepared to give.

As Warne and Waugh appeared in Melbourne, teammate Ian Healy was in Brisbane for the ACB's investigation into betting and matchfixing. Test wicketkeeper Healy appeared relaxed about appearing at the inquiry, headed by former Queensland Criminal Justice Commission head Rob O'Regan. "I've got no problems with it at all,'' he said. "I'm sure Mark and Shane will be cleared and the inquiry will do its job.''

Healy said O'Regan had already spoken to other members of the Australian team that toured Sri Lanka in 1994, when Waugh and Warne accepted payments from John.

Warne and Waugh are due to lead the Australian one-day side against England in Brisbane on Sunday.

Warne said he welcomed the opportunity to give evidence in public. "It's probably best that everything's out there,'' he said. "The public deserves to know.''

Fazli felt the inquiry could extend to include other countries. "It is definitely more than Pakistan,'' he said.

The ACB offered the services of its legal firm, Brian Ward and Partners, to Warne, Waugh and Crompton. Crompton, a lawyer, volunteered to give evidence at the inquiry and is expected to represent himself.

The hearing is part of the final gathering of evidence for Justice Qayyum's inquiry, which started in August 1998. It has received several extensions as its investigation enlarged to cover Pakistan players, former players, officials and alleged bookies.

On completion, it will make recommendations to the Pakistan sports ministry. Malik and Wasim Akram -- who has just been reappointed Pakistan captain -- have been told to prepare themselves to face criminal charges. Pakistan players are believed to have given evidence, including telephone tapes, incriminating Akram and Malik.

A former Pakistan player, Salim Pervez, admitted he paid Malik and legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed, US $ 100,000 each to play badly in a match against Australia in in 1994.

Rediff Sports Bureau, UNI

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