Spot-fixing controversy

Ijaz Butt says players won't be suspended

Nagraj Gollapudi and Andrew Miller

August 30, 2010

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Salman Butt was at the centre of controversy as he arrived at Lord's for the fourth day, England v Pakistan, 4th Test, Lord's, August 29, 2010
Salman Butt will be part of the Pakistan squad travelling to Taunton on Monday © PA Photos
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PCB chairman Ijaz Butt has said none of the players at the centre the investigation will be suspended until the police investigation comes up with some solid evidence. Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, the three Pakistan players at the centre of spot-fixing allegations, are currently in Taunton with the rest of the Pakistan side where they are preparing for the limited-overs series that begins over the weekend.

Butt, Amir and Asif, the three players who have had mobile phones confiscated, arrived with the squad in Taunton on Monday afternoon and are expected to train at the County Ground on Tuesday afternoon. That will be a closed-door session with the ground in lockdown at the request of the ECB and PCB.

The PCB is coming under increasing pressure to keep the implicated players out of the limited-overs matches which start on Sunday, with Angus Porter, chief executive of the Professional Cricketers Association, telling the BBC: ""Speaking on behalf of the England team we can say we think it would be preferable if those individuals who are named do not play in the forthcoming series."

However, Ijaz Butt cast doubt on whether that would happen. "There is a case going on over here with the Scotland Yard," he told Cricinfo. "This is only an allegation. There is still no charge or proof on that account. So at this stage there will be no action taken."

He refused to say whether conversations had taken place with Shahid Afridi, who returns as captain for the one-day matches in place of Salman Butt, over who should play in the remaining games. "This is an internal matter and I don't want to speak about it," he said.

Following the conclusion of the Test on Sunday, Pakistan's team management insisted that the one-day series will go ahead as planned next week and Sharad Pawar, the ICC president, said that was also the feeling of the governing body. "It's the desire of the ICC England and Pakistan that the series should continue," he said.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, told BBC Radio Five Live that they were working hard towards a resolution, with the first Twenty20 international at Cardiff set to take place on Sunday. "We're busy with the Metropolitan Police and hopefully before the weekend arrives we can get to some sort of a conclusion, but this is a live issue which moves with the hour, every hour and it's an individual's right that you're innocent until proven guilty.

"At the moment, it is also appropriate that the game continues," Lorgat added. "We shouldn't let everyone suffer because of a couple of individuals that might have got caught up in corrupt practices. The vast majority of players are not guilty of any such behaviour. They play the sport in the right spirit, and there are many fans who want to watch the game."

Several Pakistan fans outside the team hotel in London shouted "thieves" at the players as they boarded the coach while police also removed a number of eggs from people waiting for the coach to leave. Originally the tourists weren't due to leave London until Tuesday, but the four-day finish to the final Test at Lord's means they have brought forward their departure.

Richard Gould, the Somerset chief executive, said the county was preparing as normal for the team's arrival. "They are due to train on Wednesday, but if they need anything before then they'll have the use of the indoor school and gym," he said. "We hope to give them the best chance to prepare for the one-day series."

Gould added that the club would be implementing the security plans they used during the World Twenty20 last year when Taunton hosted the women's group matches, but that wasn't a response to events of the last 24 hours.

"We aren't looking at increasing the security presence," he said. "We had already decided to implement the plans from last year because it was a high-profile side visiting and the model we used at the World Twenty20 was drawn up to cater for such events."

There are a number of fresh faces joining up with the squad for the one-day leg of the tour, including Shoaib Akhtar, who arrived separately at the hotel, and Afridi. Six players who aren't involved are returning to Pakistan - Imran Farhat, Raza Hasan, Shoaib Malik, Tanvir Ahmed, Umar Amin and Yasir Hameed were not included for the Twenty20s and ODIs.

Andrew Strauss admitted to mixed feelings about the series of five ODIs and two Twenty20s and said that he and his team needed to come to terms with the current issue before turning their attention to the rest of the tour.

"I honestly think that the best thing to do is let the dust settle on this," said Strauss, when asked about the feasibility of the tour continuing. "It's all new and raw and it's easy to get quite emotional about things right at the moment. For all of us, it's better to see how things pan out - clearly the ICC, ECB and Pakistan Cricket Board have to sit down and put their heads together, and decide what the best way forward is, and we as a cricket team we have to take stock as well.

When asked if he was happy to carry on playing against a team that has been accused of deliberately underperforming, Strauss offered a response that was non-committal at best. "It's just so hard to say with incomplete information at this stage," he said. "From our point of view we are going to sit down and have a couple of drinks and celebrate the fact that we won the series tonight. And then in the next few days I'm sure a lot of things will become a lot clearer."

The ultimate decision, he added, would be made at boardroom level. "That's something for the ICC, the ECB and the PCB to sit down and decide what the best way forward is. Clearly there are going to be some very strong reasons for the series to go ahead, but they've also got to sit down and think about what the right thing to do is, going forward, and that's their decision."

Additional reporting by Andrew McGlashan

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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