Match-fixing scandal rocks Pakistan cricket


Former captain Imran Khan shocked at allegations, urges caution

PAKISTAN’S World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan has urged the International Cricket Council not to punish Pakistan over corruption allegations involving four of its players.

The former cricketer-turned politician said it would be devastating if the ICC decided to ban Pakistan from international cricket following sensational claims four Pakistan players took bribes to bowl no-balls during the fourth Test match against England.

The claims, which have stunned the cricketing world, were published in The News of the World.

The newspaper, famed for its undercover scoops, claim Pakistan bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif agreed to bowl no balls, foul deliveries, at certain times during the last Test against England at Lords.

Undercover reporters posing as Far Eastern businessmen paid middleman Mazhar Majeed £150,000 for advance details of three no-balls in the fourth and final Test match between Pakistan and England.

Test captain Salman Butt and wicket keeper Kamran Akmal were also named in the undercover scoop.

As a police investigation into the claims continues, the ICC said they would conduct a thorough investigation into the claims.

Former ICC chief Malcolm Speed said there was a “fairly compelling case” for suspending Pakistan from the ICC.

But former Pakistan great Imran Khan urged the ICC not to punish Pakistan.

Imran Khan has said he is concerned about the long-term repercussions the match-fixing crisis could have on the country’s cricketing establishment and feels it is a chance for the authorities to act in a manner that would discourage future cricketers from considering such activities.

“If they are proved, not just in terms of the best players in the team being implicated but from the public point of view, they would not understand the finer points of the game and each time they lose they will think it’s a fixed match,” Imran told the media.

“Why should Pakistan cricket suffer if some players have indulged in a crime? Why should Pakistani supporters suffer because of that? The people who are found guilty should be removed from the team and replaced and should be punished as an example for future generations to realise that crime does not pay.”

The allegations alone have hit morale hard in Pakistan, which is reeling from devastating floods that have affected 17 million Pakistanis over the past month.

“I think demoralisation has reached the point of extreme. The general feeling is that it’s one thing after another,” said the former captain and all-rounder.

“First we were called a terrorist country because a dictator pulled us into someone else’s war,” said cricketer-turned-politician Khan, referring to former leader General Pervez Musharraf and the US-led war in Afghanistan.

“Then there were the floods which have left millions of people homeless, and suddenly this cricket controversy comes up. This has shattered everyone in Pakistan.”

At the time of going to print neither the ICC nor the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have suspended the cricketers named in the sting operation.

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said that they were conducting their own inquiry and would take action against any guilty players.

In a statement he said: “The International Cricket Council (ICC), England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are committed to a zero-tolerance approach to corruption in cricket. All allegations of betting irregularities or fixing of matches or incidents within matches are investigated thoroughly by the ICC’s internationally respected Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) and this case is no different.

“Currently, senior ACSU investigators are in the United Kingdom conducting enquiries into the allegations directed at some Pakistan players during the recently concluded Test against England at Lord’s. That investigation has the full support and co-operation of the ECB and PCB. In addition, ACSU officials are assisting London’s Metropolitan Police with their criminal investigation.

“Led by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the ACSU is the most respected and experienced such unit in world sport and it has at its disposal a robust and far-reaching Anti-Corruption Code that all ICC Members support and are bound by.

“The integrity of the game is of paramount importance. Prompt and decisive action will be taken against those who seek to harm it. However, the facts must first be established through a thorough investigation and it is important to respect the right of due process when addressing serious allegations of this sort.

“Make no mistake. Once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out. We will not tolerate corruption in this great game.”


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