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September 19, 2010
Pakistan's continuing scrapes with allegations of spot-fixing has pushed the spotlight onto their next international assignment, a full series against South Africa in Abu Dhabi and Dubai over October and November.
A report in the Telegraph claimed, quoting an unnamed player, that senior South African cricketers are reluctant about playing the series against Pakistan and might make themselves unavailable for selection. CSA's chief executive Gerald Majola, however, insisted the tour would go on as scheduled.
Tony Irish, the South Africa Cricketers Association chief, told the newspaper that "many players" had expressed concerns to him about the tour, though he did not go further. "The fact that there are now further incidents under investigation is not good news," Irish said. "This all needs to be dealt with urgently in order to ensure that a heavy cloud of suspicion and doubt doesn't hang over our series against Pakistan."
Irish avoided answering whether he was aware that some senior players were reluctant to tour, saying only, "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."
Majola was less ambiguous and told ESPNcricinfo that no player had expressed any reservations to the board about participating in the series. When asked what CSA's stance would be if any players chose to be unavailable, Majola said: "This is an official bilateral tour governed by the ICC FTP agreement, signed by all member countries, therefore it is an ICC-sanctioned match. The ICC has not cancelled the tour and are dealing with the matter through the ACSU. We therefore have no reason to call off the tour."
The ICC had confirmed on Saturday that it was launching an investigation - based on information provided by The Sun - into the third ODI between Pakistan and England at The Oval, which the visitors won by 23 runs. The tabloid claimed it had handed over details concerning "certain scoring patterns" during the match.
The ECB announced, after a board meeting, that none of its players were under the scanner and the tour would go on as "no substantive evidence" had been passed on to either the ECB or the PCB. The Pakistan board reacted late, and did so with some frustration, claiming unhappiness with the way the ICC handled the matter and that they learned of the investigation only through the media.
The investigation came soon after the original spot-fixing scandal during the fourth Test at Lord's earlier this month, uncovered by another tabloid, News of the World, for which three Pakistan players have been provisionally suspended by the ICC and are also the subject of a police investigation in the UK.
Concern has been raised in the aftermath of both the Lord's Test and the Oval ODI about whether the tour should continue. Members of the English team were thought to be worried about the limited-overs series and the presence of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir immediately after the Lord's Test.
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