Ijaz Butt apologises for match-fixing comments
Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, has issued an apology for the comments he made during the one-day series between England and Pakistan when he claimed the hosts' players had taken "enormous amounts of money" to lose the third ODI at The Oval. The England players have accepted Butt's apology and withdrawn the threat of legal action which had loomed since the outburst.
In a joint statement issued by the PCB and ECB, Butt admitted he had no evidence to back up his claims - which he repeated to multiple media outlets - and that he regretted the "misunderstanding" that followed even though he initially refused to back down from his comments.
"I wish personally and on behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board to withdraw the comments I made concerning the England and Wales Cricket Board and each of the England players who played in the one-day International at The Oval on Friday 17 September. It is regrettable that there was a misunderstanding arising from my comments.
"I would like to make it quite clear that in the statements which I made that I never intended to question the behaviour and integrity of the England players nor the ECB nor to suggest that any of them were involved in any corrupt practices or in a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket.
"In particular, I wish to make it clear that I have never seen any evidence of any wrongdoing by any England player or the ECB at any time," he added. "I deeply and sincerely regret that my statements have been interpreted to cast doubt upon the good names of the England players and the ECB and hope that this public withdrawal will draw a line under the matter."
Butt also acknowledged the role the ECB are playing in trying to keep Pakistan on the international scene despite the team being unable to play at home due to security concerns. Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, heads the Pakistan task force and the team played a neutral series against Australia during the English season and plans had been in place for them to return next year until the spot-fixing scandal erupted.
"The ECB and its chairman have been and continue to be a friend of and hugely supportive of Pakistan cricket," Butt said. "I am very grateful for their efforts in that regard and for their hospitality this summer. We at the PCB, like all other cricket governing bodies, are committed to a zero tolerance policy to corruption in the game and will continue to work hard with the relevant authorities to eradicate it."
Following Butt's outburst Andrew Strauss, with the full backing of the board, said the players would pursue all their legal avenues if Butt didn't respond to a letter demanding a full and public apology. "The ECB and the England players who played at The Oval warmly welcome this withdrawal and now regard the matter closed," the statement concluded. "Giles Clarke confirmed that following this statement he is continuing in his role as the ICC Pakistan task team chairman."
Earlier in the day Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, had rebuked Butt for not going through the official channels if he had concerns about match-fixing. "I would have been much more satisfied had it been a direct approach to us or ACSU inspectors," he said.
ESPNcricinfo also understands that the ICC considered suspending Butt over the remarks but gave the chairman time to issue an apology.