England players` strike averted; Riaz, Trott come to blows
London: A strike by the England team, which was unwilling to play a scandal-prone Pakistan, was averted at the last minute even as Pakistani fast bowler Wahab Riaz and England batsman Jonathan Trott grabbed each other by the throat amid continuing tension over match-fixing allegations.
England selectors were preparing to choose a second team if the main eleven had refused to play in yesterday`s fourth ODI against Pakistan at the Lord`s but such a possibility was averted at the last minute, the British media reported.
But what could not be averted was the simmering tensions between the two sides coming to surface during a net session before the match.
Riaz, who was questioned by the Scotland Yard for his alleged involvement in the spot-fixing scandal that has marred Pakistan`s tour, was walking past Trott during the session when the England batsman reportedly taunted him.
"How much are you going to make from the bookies today?" Trott reportedly asked Riaz.
An enraged Riaz responded by making a comment about Trott`s family. The two players then threw their batting pads at each other before grabbing each other by the throat in full public view.
The squabbling pair had to be separated England batting coach Graham Gooch, who pushed Trott away and put an arm around Riaz.
Match referee Jeff Crowe summoned both the players to the MCC offices along with England coach Andy Flower and his Pakistani counterpart Waqar Younis.
The proceedings inside almost delayed the outside.
The dramatic face-off between the two players underlines the tensions that have developed between the two sides. PCB chairman Ejaz Butt`s statement that England`s players threw the third ODI in Oval for "enormous amounts of money" has only added fuel to the fire.
The remarks enraged the England players so much that they threatened to boycott the remaining ODIs of the five-match series before agreeing to play on "through gritted teeth."
"Feelings have been high for the last 24 hours and we?re not hiding that fact," said ECB CEO David Collier.
"There were strong feelings caused by the comments (from Ejaz Butt) and that is bound to spill over. It is a closed matter," he added.