Monday 16 September 2019

Root dismisses fixing claims after England humbled

Root: "I’ve just been told to strongly deny the accusations, because it sounds quite ridiculous really." Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

David Clough

England players and officials have issued an emphatic denial of "outrageous" allegations of spot-fixing made in an Al Jazeera documentary.

Captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss both dismissed the claims made in the Middle East-based television station's programme 'Cricket's Match-Fixers'.

Some of the allegations in the documentary centred on England's Test defeat to India in Chennai in December 2016.

The documentary focuses on the activities of an India-based member of a criminal syndicate and his methods to fix the results of some matches and passages of play in others.

Root, speaking after England's nine-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the first Test at Lord's yesterday, echoed the remarks of Bayliss - who described the documentary's content at "outrageous".

"I've been made aware there's a documentary going out," said Root.

"All the players have been briefed by the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), and been told there's absolutely nothing to worry about. I've just been told to strongly deny the accusations, because it sounds quite ridiculous really."

England yesterday began their Test summer with their defeat early on day four against Pakistan after failing to sustain the previous evening's brief fightbacks.

Jos Buttler (67) and Dom Bess (57) could add only a combined three runs to the spirit demonstrated in their stand of 126 - and hopes of victory faded fast as England lost their last four wickets for seven in 25 balls to be bowled out for 242.

As Mohammad Amir (4-36) and Mohammad Abbas (4-41) shared the spoils, and Pakistan were set only 64 for victory, Root's team extended their winter woes on to home territory.

But for the Buttler and debutant spinner Bess' seventh-wicket partnership - which more than doubled the total after they joined forces on a second-innings 110-6, with 69 runs needed to avoid an innings defeat - England were outplayed in all departments here.

The final act contained an early wicket, James Anderson seeing off Azhar Ali, but Pakistan completed their task without alarm.

England resumed with apparent reason for a minor spring in their step, thanks to Buttler and Bess.

But the former was gone in only the second over. Buttler fell lbw on the front foot, shaping to push-drive Abbas, and Mark Wood was caught behind off Amir.

Abbas had his fourth wicket when Stuart Broad edged to Sarfraz Ahmed to complete a pair, and then Bess was last out, clean-bowled trying to attack Amir.

As Pakistan entered the home straight, Anderson struck a blow when he brought one up the slope to knock back Azhar's off-stump and make it 12 for one.

The tourists were minus a frontline batsman, Babar Azam out with a broken arm after being hit by a short ball from Ben Stokes in the first innings, but Imam ul-Haq and Haris Sohail did the necessary in an unbroken half-centuy stand - and the mirage of England resistance which flickered for a session on Saturday evening had disappeared.

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