Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pakistan sends team to investigate cricket scam claims

The allegations centre on no-balls bowled by Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif

Investigators from Pakistan are flying to London to examine allegations that some of its cricketers were involved in a betting scam. The Federal Investigation Agency team will study claims that two players deliberately bowled no-balls during the final test against England at Lord's.Former International Cricket Council chief Malcolm Speed says there was a "fairly compelling case" for Pakistan's suspension from world cricket.

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The game cannot afford for this to be swept under the carpet ”
End Quote Jonathan Agnew BBC cricket correspondent
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Police have questioned four players.

The three members of the team from the FIA - Pakistan's highest law enforcement agency - will join Scotland Yard officers in investigating claims by The News of the World that it paid cricket agent Mazhar Majeed £150,000 to provide advance details of when three no-balls would be bowled.

The paper alleges gamblers could make a fortune out of betting on such an outcome.
Mr Majeed, 35, has been released on police bail after being arrested on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

'Ruthless actions'

Four members of the Pakistan team - bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, along with their captain Salman Butt and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal - have all been quizzed by Scotland Yard officers. There are also reports that mobile phones from three of the players have been taken away for examination.
The team will now head to Taunton for a one-day warm-up match against Somerset on Thursday, before the start of the limited overs series against England.

BBC News correspondent Greg Wood says there are suggestions that the England team would "find it difficult" to face a Pakistan side which included the four players at the centre of the allegations.

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Imran Khan has urged the authorities to come down hard on anyone found guilty
Despite growing pressure, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has ruled out calls for action to be taken against the players until after the police investigation.

But ICC president Sharah Pawar warned: "If, unfortunately, there is a truth (in the allegations) then ruthless actions will be taken."
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed insisted cricket was not "institutionally corrupt" in his country, and said the claims were unproven.

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Pakistan's remaining fixtures
• Thursday: One Day warm-up match vs Somerset at Taunton
• Sun 5 Sept: Twenty20 vs England at Cardiff
• Tue 7 Sept: Twenty20 vs England at Cardiff
• Fri 10 Sept: One Day International vs England at Chester-le-Street, Durham
• Sun 12 Sept: One Day International vs England at Headingley, Leeds
• Fri 17 Sept: One Day International vs England at The Oval, London
• Mon 20 Sept: One Day International vs England at Lord's, London
• Wed 22 Sept: One Day International vs England at the Rose Bowl, Southampton
Appointed captain
A joint statement issued by the ICC, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Pakistani Cricket Board stressed that no player nor team official had been arrested.
Mr Amir bowled two of the three no-balls which led to the investigation - one on Thursday and one on Friday.

The 18-year-old became the youngest bowler in Test history to take 50 wickets during day two of the second Test at Lord's.
His teammate, Mr Asif, bowled one of the three no-balls in question on Thursday, the first day of the Test at Lord's. The 27-year-old made his Test debut in 2005 and is currently ranked third in the ICC bowling rankings.
Mr Butt was appointed Pakistan's Test captain in July. He made his debut back in 2003 but was in and out of the side for several years until securing a regular place in 2007.
What is your reaction to the allegations? Are you in Pakistan? Please send us your comments below.

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