Pakistan focus on final game of blighted tour
London: Pakistan tried to shut out another day of speculation, criticism and acrimony on Tuesday to focus on ending their blighted tour of England on a winning note.
While Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said they almost pulled out of the fourth one dayer after a row between rival players, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt came under fresh fire for suggesting England were bribed to lose Friday`s ODI.
Former captain Imran Khan, one of Pakistan`s greatest players, admonished Butt for making serious allegations against the English players without offering any proof or evidence.
"It was a wrong move by the PCB chairman, he should not have done this," said Imran.
"It is not correct to assume that if our players are being accused of being involved in spot-fixing, players of other countries might also be involved in the same thing," he told Geo Super channel.
Imran also called on the board to hold a proper high level inquiry into the spot-fixing allegations constantly surrounding the Pakistan team.
"It is time we had a proper inquiry and put an end to this matter. These allegations have badly damaged our cricket image and our players," he added.
Butt`s remarks, that there had been talk in some "bookies` circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose (Friday`s) match", has incensed the hosts and signs of further bad blood emerged on Tuesday.
Afridi said his men had considered not playing in Monday`s fourth one-dayer at Lord`s after a dispute between fast bowler Whab Riaz and England batsman Jonathan Trott.
"There was talk of not going in for the toss because of the incident," said Afridi.
"But better sense prevailed because we wanted to play the match and we want this series to end properly".
Pakistan won the match at Lord`s to level the five match series 2-2.
There was also confusion over team manager Yawar Saeed`s future and he denied he had resigned and placed his future in the hands of the PCB.
Saeed, who spent much of the morning denying speculation that he was about to quit, told Sky Sports News that he was focusing on Wednesday`s series decider at Southampton.
"Because it`s a decider, because of what is going on, they (the Pakistan players) are determined to win. And we shall play good cricket and try to win this game," he declared.
"I am not an employed manager. I am not employed by the PCB. So if you are not employed, what do you resign from? Thin air? I don`t have to resign," he said of his own status.
"The procedure is, after every tour the chairman then will decide who is the manager for the next tour. So it`s his domain."
The tour has been irretrievably tainted by the suspensions of Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and team mates Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif after newspaper allegations that they had deliberately arranged for no-balls to be delivered at last month`s fourth Test.
Imran said an impartial inquiry now had to be carried out if Pakistan was not to face further such allegations.
However, he rejected demands that the International Cricket Council (ICC) ban Pakistan in the meantime.
"I don`t think a country should be collectively punished for allegations yet to be proven against some individuals. It is not common sense," he said.
Imran found support from Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who told reporters in India that any such ban would be a wrong move.
"We need to have a strong Pakistan team playing international cricket," said Ponting. "To keep Pakistan out of international cricket or the World Cup will have a bigger effect on everything."