Legendary England all-rounder Sir Ian Botham has called for a ban on the Pakistan team from all forms of cricket until the match-fixing charges against its players were not fully investigated.
Botham`s harsh statement came in the wake of spot-fixing allegations against three Pakistani cricketers -- Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer -- during last month`s Lord`s Test against England.
The tainted trio of Butt, Asif and Aamer were later provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council, pending an investigation into the allegations.
We at Zeecric bring you the excerpts of what Botham said.
"In my opinion, yes, simple as that," Botham said when asked if Pakistan should be banned from international cricket.
He also said the ICC needs to adopt severe measures to protect the integrity of cricket.
"We keep on sweeping things under the carpet and say `oh well, it`s unfortunate circumstances`. Enough is enough. The public pay their money to come and watch the game. What do they do when a catch goes down or somebody bowls a no ball? What are they thinking?" Botham asked.
Incidentally, further corruption allegations against Pakistan emerged on Saturday when the ICC confirmed it was investigating "certain scoring patterns" during their third ODI against England at the Oval on Friday.
The allegations have brought a new twist to the whole fixing saga with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt claiming that the accusations were a conspiracy against his team and there were rumours amongst bookmakers that English players have fixed the third ODI in return of "enormous amounts of money".
Butt`s claim did not go down well with Botham, who termed his allegations as "appalling".
"I`d like to know how Ijaz Butt knows what the bookmakers are doing. Maybe he should tell us something. I think the whole thing`s appalling, I think it`s farcical and this has gone on for too long now. It needs to be stamped out," he said.
"If you have a cancerous problem you go to the root of it. Get to the root of it, even if it means giving guys an amnesty and saying: `Come clean, tell us what happened then we`ll move on`."
He also came hard on the ICC for not taking any action so far against match-fixing offenders.
"Whether they would serve a ban is up to the ICC, but the ICC needs to wake up. They need to get off their backsides. I feel they don`t at all seem to be doing much about it.”
"We know this has been going on for a long time, let`s sort it out. Enough of these feeble excuses. At the end of the day the truth of the matter is something is not right and it needs to be sorted out," Botham insisted.