Strauss urges ICC to take strong lead in `fixing` probe

Southampton (England): England captain Andrew Strauss called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) to leave "no stone unturned" in their probe into cricket corruption after his side ended a scandal-marred season with a one-day series win over Pakistan here.

"This summer has clearly demonstrated when there is a sniff of something in the air it devalues the whole game and nobody wants to play cricket in those circumstances," Strauss told a news conference after the end of a tour mired in `fixing` allegations yesterday.

England thrashed Pakistan by 121 runs in the fifth and final one-dayer at the Rose Bowl for a 3-2 series win after Pakistan had fought back to 2-2 from 2-0 down.

Eoin Morgan, Strauss`s Middlesex team-mate, was named man-of-the-match for his unbeaten 107 in a total of 256 for six.

Pakistan, only briefly in the hunt, were dismissed for 135 with exactly 13 overs to spare as Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann took three wickets apiece.

But those statistics remained overshadowed by the newspaper claims that led to Pakistan`s Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif being suspended by the ICC and questioned by British police over an alleged plot to bowl deliberate no-balls during last month`s Test at Lord`s.

England then found themselves in the firing line when Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ejaz Butt accused them of losing last week`s third one-day international at The Oval on purpose.

"The ICC must leave no stone unturned," Strauss said. "We are keen to move on from this series and very keen not to have a repeat of this at any time in the future, which is why it`s so important the ICC take a very strong lead from now on and don`t take a breather now this series finished."

England were struggling at 47 for three until former Ireland left-hander Morgan revived the innings with an excellently paced hundred that saw him go to three figures in the last over with a six and a four off successive deliveries from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.

"Having been 2-0 up in the series, and cosy about things, it`s a bit of a shock to the system to suddenly be 2-2 -especially given what went on over the last week," man-of-the-series Strauss said.

"We had to get a competitive total - and for a while there, it looked like we were going to struggle to do that.”

"But Morgs` innings was an outstanding one and put us in a good position to finish them off."

Disappointed Pakistan one-day captain Shahid Afridi said: "I was thinking about a happy ending but it hasn`t happened.”

"There were some controversies on this tour but my team was very united and I think this will give us some good results in the future."

Pakistan originally arrived in England to play neutral series against Australia as their homeland has become a no-go area for international cricket since last year`s armed attack on Sri Lanka`s team bus in Lahore.

Afridi said he would love to play in England again although Butt`s recent comments and the general `fixing` controversy appear to have ended any hopes of a quick return visit.

"We are ready to play anywhere. I would love to come back here, England is like a second home to me," Afridi said.

This series was England`s last before they begin the defence of the Ashes in Australia in November.

They will go into that contest on the back of six straight home series wins against Bangladesh (Test and one-dayers), Australia (one-day internationals) and Pakistan
(Tests, Twenty20 and one-dayers).

England haven`t won a Test series in Australia since 1986/87 but Strauss said: "The feeling is we are in a very good place. We`ve won six series out of six this summer, I
don`t know when the last time England did that was.”

"Ultimately, going to Australia is a big challenge and we are going to have to start from square one all over again," added Strauss ahead of Thursday`s Ashes squad announcement.

"It`s one of the biggest (northern) winters any of us can possibly dream of and it`s very hard not to be excited by that."

Bureau Report