Strauss urges ICC to 'do their job'
Andrew Strauss has called on the ICC to "do their job" and rid the game of corruption after the latest spot-fixing allegations emerged during England's one-day series against Pakistan. The ICC announced on Saturday that they were launching an investigation into scoring-rates during the third one-day international at The Oval, which has sparked an angry response from the Pakistan board and left the remaining two matches under another cloud.
When the ECB called an emergency board meeting to discuss the Sun newspaper story which sparked the ICC into action it appeared the remaining one-dayers could be in doubt, but the ECB received assurances that no England players were involved and said the matches would continue. However, in the latest bizarre twist Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, has launched a scathing attack on a "conspiracy" against Pakistan and claimed that it's England that should be investigated.
That development only came to light after Strauss spoke about his ongoing sadness at further controversy overshadowing the cricket and made a demand to the ICC to take strong action. "If it's not dealt with strictly now it never will be," he said. "It's brought everything very firmly to everyone's attention that it's an issue.
"Clearly we still have to find out if there's actual guilt or not but ICC have got a responsibility to the game of cricket make sure when 22 players turn up for a match they are trying hard to win. The ICC need to stand up and lead the game. Never has it been more important for them to do that."
However, Strauss warned that cricket will have to face some painful truths to get to the bottom of corruption but warned that if drastic steps aren't taken now then the issue will only return in the future with greater vengeance.
"There is no doubt that we need to get into a situation where every team in international cricket we are sure is 100% clean," Strauss said. "How we go about that is the sixty million dollar question. It's going to be hard to root out people if they are doing it and it's going to be a long-winded and painful affair if people are going to take it seriously.
"The last thing I want is things to be swept under the carpet because we'll have to deal with it again in the future and it will be worse. Each time these things come out it chips away at the game of cricket."
Ever since the first spot-fixing scandal erupted during the Lord's Test last month the onfield action has taken a back seat. The public showed their growing apathy with poor crowds at the two Twenty20 internationals in Cardiff and although the first three one-dayers have been well attended it remains to be seen the impact of the latest revelations on the last two games, while Strauss admitted the end can't come soon enough.
"All the players will be quite relieved when this series is over and done with - there's no doubt about that," he said. "It's been a very tough tour for the Pakistanis and a tough series for us to play in, given what has gone on off the pitch."
Strauss spoke with Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, and representatives at the Professional Cricketers' Association after Saturday's story about the third one-dayer before it was confirmed the series would continue. He wants to give the benefit of the doubt before jumping to any conclusions.
"I just don't see how we can do anything different, because we have no idea as to whether these allegations are at all credible or not," he said. "It would be wrong for us to vote with our feet on something that may be just a crank call. We just don't know.
"The only thing you can say is give the benefit of the doubt that these allegations are well off the mark. That is certainly my attitude at the moment - because I would be dumbfounded if it was taking place after everything that has gone on in the Test series."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo