Pakistan set off for remaining tour amid fixing allegations
London: Amid calls to scrap the tour immediately following ‘spot-fixing’ and ‘match-fixing’ allegations, Pakistan today set off for the Twenty20 and ODI series under a new captain in Shahid Afridi.
The cricket world has reacted with shock and anger at the scandal involving Pakistani players and demanded life bans for the guilty to wipe out corruption from the sport.
But, the Pakistan team quietly left the English capital for Taunton in southwest of the country where they are due to play county side Somerset in a warm-up match on Thursday ahead of the Twenty20 and One-Day International series.
Pakistan and England square off in two Twenty20 Internationals (September 5 and 7) before playing five ODIs from September 10-22.
International Cricket Council President Sharad Pawar said in Mumbai after a teleconference among ICC top brass, chiefs of ECB and PCB that the Twenty20 and ODI series will go on and “appropriate” action on the allegations will be taken after the completion of investigation by London police.
“It is the desire of the ICC, England and Pakistan that the game is continued,” Pawar said.
He said besides the London police, Anti-Corruption Unit of the ICC is also preparing a report, to be submitted in two-three days, and the world body will take action after studying both the investigations and a report from the PCB.
Meanwhile, television channels here reported that angry fans had chanted “thief” in Urdu as the embattled players boarded a bus at the team hotel near Lord’s.
On Sunday, Pakistan team bus was pelted with tomatoes and booed by their own supporters as they left Lord’s after the ‘spot-fixing’ allegations came to light and they were handed an innings and 225-run defeat by England in the fourth Test.
Somerset chief executive Richard Gould played down the prospect of further fan protests.
“We are preparing for all contingencies and that (fan protests) is the furthest thing that is likely to happen at Somerset,” he said.
International cricket community has demanded life bans on Pakistani cricketers if found guilty with former England captain Michael Vaughan saying that any further matches would have “no credibility” in the light of the allegations.
The scandal broke out when British tabloid ‘News of the World’ claimed yesterday that its undercover reporters had paid fixer Mazhar Majeed USD 230,000 for advance details of three no-balls in the fourth Test as part of a sting operation.
Majeed, a 35-year-old agent for several Pakistan players, was arrested by police but was released on bail.
Scotland Yard questioned Pakistan captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif, who bowled the no-balls, and their mobile phones were seized.