Ijaz Butt says no leniency for Amir
Pakistan cricket's chief Ijaz Butt has said his board will not make any appeals for leniency for 18-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Amir in the spot-fixing controversy. Butt was speaking in New Delhi after meeting with ICC chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday afternoon.
He told the Indian news channel NDTV that Amir would be treated like the other two Pakistan cricketers suspended for their role in the spot-fixing controversy. "Different standards cannot be applied for different cricketers," he said, adding that according to the PCB the players had to be thought of as "innocent unless proven guilty". If they are found guilty Butt said, "the book will be thrown at them".
The cricket administrators emerged out of Pawar's residence after the meeting which lasted close to 75 minutes. Butt said the "first and foremost reason" he was in Delhi was because he "owed him (Pawar) one because we had not met after he became the ICC president - I have a lot of respect for him and he is a dear friend".
The two had talked about the suspended players but Butt said he would not comment on the investigation until it was complete, though he did add it was "wrong of the police to search the players' room without their permission". Butt said the PCB had protested strongly when it was discovered that the Pakistan dressing room at Lord's had been searched without the knowledge of either the English or the Pakistan boards. He said only the MCC, as the hosts, were informed about the search.
Butt's meeting with Pawar appears to be a move to gain support in the ICC to put forward a case for Indo-Pak cricket. Butt was quick to say he "didn't see an India bias in the ICC suspension - but I am not a politician" and wanted ties between the two nations to "resume as soon as possible".
The resumption of ties, he believed, would be quickened if an India-Pakistan series was to be held at a neutral venue. "If we can play against Australia in England, why can't we play India?", Butt said, adding that the PCB had a few suggestions to offer to the Indians as his Board had discussed the possibility "for a long time". A BCCI official, however, told ESPNcricinfo that a neutral series seemed "impossible" at this stage due to both the political climate between India and Pakistan as well as the spot-fixing controversy.
In his television interview, Butt said Pakistan's defeat in the Lord's Test, by an innings and 225 runs, had proved that "there was no match-fixing in that game - the three no balls had nothing to do with the ultimate result". He said that the media coverage had shifted during the week following the Lord's Test. "First everyone said match-fixing. Then they switched to spot-fixing, spot-fixing".
The anger in Pakistan after the ICC's first-ever suspension of players was not reinforced by the PCB chief who told the media, "we are not angry about the players being suspended ... the ICC's Code of Conduct is clear and the ICC has the authority to do what they did". Butt said, "the PCB is a part of the ICC and we should work together for a solution".
As the ICC chief, Pawar was "duty bound" to meet Butt, his aides told ESPNcricinfo. "He has to be accessible to all member boards - particularly an ICC member in distress."
Pawar said the Scotland Yard investigation into the charges against four Pakistan players is likely to end soon. "Prima facie there are some allegations and we have suspended the players on the basis of that," Pawar said. "Scotland Yard has permitted them to go back to Pakistan and the PCB has also promised to make them available to the investigators if required. Nobody is playing hide and seek.
"A major investigation agency is carrying out the probe and that will not take long. Neither the PCB nor ICC will interfere in the process."