Australia opener Brad Haddin feels he has been the butt of a “joke” by the Indian press who are reporting he’s under investigation for slow batting during a World Cup match.
Team manager Steve Bernard has dismissed the claims as “ludicrous”.
Australia’s Shane Watson and Haddin struggled against the African minnow team Zimbabwe’s spin bowlers early in their innings in the February 21 Group A game in Ahmedabad, reaching 0-5 from two overs.
They eventually made 6-262, with Haddin scoring 29 off 66 balls.
Zimbabwe were dismissed for 171.
“The slow rate of scoring in the first two overs was scrutinised by the ICC anti-corruption and security unit,” Indianexpress.com website said in a report from the national wire service, Press Trust of India.
“Sources aware of developments said the ICC ACSU (Anti-Corruption Security Unit) had carried out a quiet review of the match after questions were raised over the slow start taken by Watson and Haddin.
“With the spectre of spot-fixing now looming over international cricket following the bans on three Pakistani players for spot-fixing last year on the England tour, sources said the ICC ASCU was keeping a vigilant eye on all matches in the World Cup and the slow start by the Australian openers caught their attention.”
Bernard confirmed the ICC ACSU had made no approach to the Australian team while Haddin said the whole issue was a joke.
“That’s quite laughable actually,” Haddin said.
Bernard said the report was nonsense.
“It’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard in my life, that a team could be none for five after two overs and that’s suspicious,” Bernard said.
“The nature of a big contest like the World Cup and I suppose the nature of India where there’s a lot of media outlets all searching for the great story, they are going to put a lot of emphasis on anything whether it’s worthwhile or not at times.”
Bernard was forced to address questions about whether the world champions felt the India media were trying to bring them down.
Skipper Ricky Ponting was fined for slamming his groin protector into his bag as it rebounded onto a dressing-room TV and caused damage which led to a letter of complaint from the Gujarat Association following the win over Zimbabwe.
Indian media accused Ponting of attacking the TV with his bat.
Ponting was reprimanded by the ICC after accepting a code of conduct charge.
“I can’t say for sure if that (a vendetta) is the case or not,” Bernard said.
“As far as Ricky’s incident goes, that was dealt with by the ICC.”
Australia face Group A rivals Sri Lanka in Colombo on Saturday before playing minnows Kenya and Canada in Bangalore on March 13 and 16 respectively.