Cricketers face police inquiry

Essex Police are investigating allegations of “match irregularities” against two of the county’s players.

It is understood the allegations relate to betting, but there was no official comment from the county, the police force or the England and Wales Cricket Board as to what is alleged to have occurred.

A statement from Essex Police read: “Following allegations received about two Essex County Cricket players involved in match irregularities, we have initiated an investigation and are working closely with Essex County Cricket Club and the English Cricket Board.’’

Essex Police were not prepared to name the players under investigation at this stage.

Danny Macklin, a spokesman for Essex County Cricket Club, said: “As this is an on-going investigation, we cannot comment at this stage.”

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The news comes on the same day that Essex played their first game of the new season in the LV County Championship against Middlesex, at Chelmsford.

Cricket has been blighted by betting controversies in the past.

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There have been several incidents of match-fixing in international cricket but rarely has the practice been linked to the English domestic game.

In 1994, former Essex player Don Topley claimed that two games involving his county three years earlier had been fixed.

But an ECB investigation found no evidence to support his accusation.

The most high-profile example involved Hansie Cronje, the former South Africa captain, who admitted that he accepted a series of bribes to influence games during the 1990s.

His admission implicated Mohammed Azharuddin, the former India captain and he later admitted the crime.

In 2000, the sweeping Justice Qayyum report into match-fixing in Pakistan cricket found Salim Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman guilty.

More recently in 2008, Marlon Samuels, of the West Indies, was banned for two years for sharing information with a bookmaker.

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