Pakistan stunned by latest ‘match-fix’ allegations
Karachi: Pakistan was left reeling on Sunday by the latest allegations of match-fixing to plague the country`s beloved cricket team with former stars and officials demanding life bans for any players implicated.
Former spinner and chief selector Iqbal Qasim termed the allegations, which centred on the ongoing fourth Test against England at Lord`s, as a "great mishap."
"The news is shocking and a great mishap," Qasim told reporters.
"As far as I know, players have been accused of fancy fixing, to bowl no-balls so they all must be investigated seriously and then strict action must be taken against those who are proved guilty."
Britain`s biggest-selling newspaper, the News of the World, claimed several blatant no-balls had been delivered by Pakistan bowlers during the Test at cricket`s spiritual home.
The weekly tabloid said it gave 150,000 pounds (230,000 dollars, 185,000 euros) to a middle man who correctly told them in advance precisely when those deliveries would be bowled.
Police in London have arrested a 35-year-old man in connection with the allegations.
Qasim heads the sports department of the National Bank.
That is the team for whom bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, as well as skipper Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal play in the domestic season.
"It is a matter of Pakistan first, then comes the department they work for, so once they are proven guilty then action should be first taken against them for staining the image of the country and then comes the department they work for," said Qasim.
Former paceman Sarfraz Nawaz said he was not shocked at the news.
"I have been vocal about Pakistan players` involvement in match fixing," Nawaz told reporters from London.
"I have said this before and now I reiterate that all the players involved must be banned for life because they have let the whole nation and the fans down. How often they have done that and we have let them off."
Nawaz believes the team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have lacked the toughness to deal with the problems, citing allegations that bookmakers approached Pakistan players in their hotel in Colombo on a tour last year.
Iqbal Mohammad Ali, chairman of the sports committee of the National Assembly, also joined Nawaz in demanding life bans for the players.
"Enough is enough. Players have stained Pakistan`s image. All those who are found guilty must be banned for life," said Ali.
The PCB said since the matter was under investigation no comment would be made at this stage.
Fans also reacted angrily to the news.
"It is disgusting," said Mohammad Shariq, who was playing cricket on the roadside after early morning prayers on Sunday.
"We must get rid of the players who are involved in this malpractice and make a clean team."