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September 24, 2010
Graeme Swann, the England offspinner, wanted to pull out of the fourth one-day international at Lord's on Monday following Ijaz Butt's claim that England took money to lose the previous match at The Oval. It was only after extensive negotiations between the ECB and the players that the game went ahead, but Swann has revealed the players were ready to take drastic action.
Andrew Strauss was involved in meetings that went into the early hours of Monday morning with the board and the Professional Cricketers' Association before the decision was taken to continue the one-day series. The ECB issued strongly worded statements in response to Butt's outburst and are still set on pursuing legal action against the Pakistan board chairman unless he makes a public apology for claiming England took "enormous amounts of money" to lose at The Oval.
"I couldn't wait for those games to end and get the hell out of there. It was a dreadful experience and one I never want to experience again," Swann told The Sun. "In fact, I didn't want to play at all in the one-dayer on Monday. I won't lie about that - I was dead against playing. And I wasn't alone, plenty of other players had strong reservations.
"But Straussy, who has been brilliant throughout this episode, persuaded us the best thing we could do was get on with it as a team and make sure we won the series. He was proved to be right."
Swann, who took 11 wickets at 19.00 during the series which England won 3-2 with a 121-run success at the Rose Bowl, insisted it was no empty threat from the players about taking Butt to court over his claims.
"I want to say I agree 100 per cent with the decision to send a letter on behalf of the England team demanding an apology from PCB chairman Ijaz Butt. If we do not receive a satisfactory response, we will start legal proceedings," Swann said. "Mr Butt's comments about bookmakers claiming we deliberately lost the third one-dayer in return for 'enormous amounts of money' were as offensive as they could possibly be. They went against everything I stand for as a professional sportsman.
"We felt powerless as players because as soon as somebody says something like that and it is read by cricket followers, our name is sullied. You can't go around accusing people and pointing fingers with completely unsubstantiated claims. In the civilised world, it is not something that should happen. I hope Mr Butt sees sense and retracts his claims or there must be severe consequences for him."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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