Imran puts weight behind beleaguered Pak team

Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 23:26 PM IST

Karachi: Putting his weight behind a beleaguered Pakistan team embroiled in the match-fixing scandal, former captain Imran Khan on Tuesday rejected calls for suspending the entire team just because there are allegations against a few players.

"I don`t think anywhere in the world you can collectively penalise an entire nation or a team because there are allegations against a few players which are yet to be proved," Imran said.

"I think both the Pakistan and English boards are duty- bound to exercise restraint and stop exchanging damaging statements. It is not good for world cricket," Imran said.

Former England skippers Ian Botham and Michael Vaughan had earlier called for a ban on the Pakistan team from all forms of cricket until the match-fixing charges against its players are not fully investigated.

While he sympathised with the team, Imran was in no mood to spare PCB chairman Ijaz Butt for accusing the English players of throwing the third one-dayer at the Oval.

"He should not have made such serious allegations against the English players without any proof or evidence. It was uncalled for and has achieved nothing for Pakistan cricket," Imran said.

The cricketer-turned-politician said that it was not fair to assume that other countries would also engage in match fixing because of Pakistan. "It is not a sensible or logical statement by the PCB chairman. It has made things more difficult for us," said Imran.

Imran said that the PCB approached the whole issue without planning. "The moment the allegations were made against our players the board should have suspended them temporarily and started a high level inquiry," he said.

"If the allegations were not correct then the PCB would have been in an ideal position to sue the newspapers and individuals making allegations against our players," Imran added.

The former captain also urged the PCB to bring to an end the constant fixing allegations surrounding the Pakistan team by holding a proper impartial inquiry. "It is time we had a proper inquiry and put an end to this matter. These allegations have badly damaged our image and our players."

"If we don`t have our own impartial inquiry we will continue to face such allegations and this is not good for our cricket or players," Imran lamented.

Relations between Pakistan and England cricket boards soured since Butt`s inflammatory remarks against the English players, in which he had claimed that they were involved in spot fixing and that they should be investigated by the ICC.