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January 10, 2012
Misbah-ul-Haq, successor as Pakistan captain to the disgraced Salman Butt, has appealed to England to forget the spot-fixing scandal that has blighted his country's cricketing reputation and expressed confidence that there is no chance of a repeat.
Pakistan and England meet for the first time in 17 months since a plot by Butt and the two Pakistan fast bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, to bowl deliberate no-balls for financial gain were uncovered in a sting operation by the now defunct tabloid, the News of the World.
The players were banned by the ICC and three months ago received lengthy jail sentences at Southwark Crown, leaving Pakistan and England to approach a three-Test series in the UAE fearing lingering resentment.
Misbah, flanked by Pakistan's team manager Naveed Akram Cheema at an arrival media conference at the ICC offices in Dubai, asked England to give Pakistan a fair chance to recover their reputation.
"I think both teams know we just have to forget the past," he said. "Our area of concern is to play good cricket, fair cricket - and that's what we can do. In a year and a half, our performances show that - the way we are behaving on the field, the way we are conducting ourselves.
"Credit goes to the team and all the players after a difficult time - everybody just stuck to the task, gathered their thoughts and just wanted to prove to the world that we were good players and a good team. Our target is just to play cricket in the true spirit. We want good relations, and to play really good and hard cricket."
Cheema was also adamant that Pakistan have put their house in order. "The Pakistan Cricket Board has introduced a code of conduct - an anti-corruption code - and all these guys have been told. We are following this code in letter and spirit. I think with those rules and regulations in place, the chances [of spot fixing] happening again are not there. I'm absolutely confident about that."
Some England observers have looked askance at Pakistan's selection of Wahab Riaz, who was omitted while legal proceedings took place against his former team-mates, but who has now been recalled.
"As far as Wahab was concerned, I think all those who were involved in the unfortunate incident have been imprisoned," Cheema said. "Nothing special has been pointed out against [Wahab] - neither from the ICC nor elsewhere - and until something is found these are mere speculations. As far as the PCB is concerned and Wahab is concerned, there are no allegations which we have received."
Coincidentally, Misbah and Cheema were speaking within minutes of an MCC World Cricket Committee media release in Cape Town, calling on the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit to impose life bans on any captain, vice-captain or coach found guilty of corruption.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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