Pakistan cricket’s ex-bosses smell rat in spot-fixing

Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) Ahead of the fourth one-day international match against England, many former Pakistan administrators are smelling rat in the back-to-back match-fixing allegations in the British media against the Pakistan cricket team.

Ever since the sting operation by News of the World tabloid exposed four Pakistani players in spot-fixing during the Lord’s test match, the Pakistan team has been in the eye of storm. Captain Salman Butt, pacers Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Aamer and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal have also received notices to explain their position.

British media has also reported that the ICC has opened investigation into the scoring pattern of Pakistan team during the third ODI which the team eventually went on to win following Umar Gull’s six wickets burst.

The reluctance of South African players to play tainted Pakistan players has also been reported, although this was eventually denied by Cricket South Africa’s chief executive Gerald Majola.

The latest string of allegations has particularly outraged the cricketing pundits in Pakistan, who feel that an attempt is being made to malign the country.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ijaz Butt has already hinted that the board plans to take up this issue with the ICC and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Yawar Saeed, manager of the Pakistan cricket team in England, said they were ‘not perturbed by these reports and were focusing on the matches ahead’.

‘We have managed to win the third ODI and the team badly needed such a morale-boosting victory,’ he said, adding that the boys were confident of finishing the tour on a high.

The PCB legal advisor, when contacted, said it would be inappropriate to comment on such reports unless and until something was verified.

‘They are accusing us even if we win or lose’, he regretted, adding that this raised suspicion of bias.

‘The newspapers carrying these reports are tabloids and don’t enjoy a very good reputation,’ he opined. The board and the players ‘reserved the right to approach the court and take this matter to the logical end’, he added.

Former PCB chairman Arif Ali Abbasi, on the other hand, has a different take on the entire episode.

‘Our board has failed to handle the situation properly,’ he said, adding that the British media was trying to cash in on the controversy by carrying such reports.

‘I don’t agree that this is a conspiracy. This is sheer incompetence on the part of the PCB,’ he said while flaying the decision to agree to playing at a neutral venue in the first place.

Another former PCB chairman, Shahriar Khan, asked ‘why the English players were absolved of any allegations if the third ODI was being brought under the scanner’.

‘ICC has acted in haste and should have taken proper course to gauge how much evidence was there before proceeding further,’ he argued, adding that it was not appropriate to point a finger at Pakistan cricket team alone.