Less than a day after the News of the World sent Pakistan cricket heading towards another crisis more skeletons were tumbling out of the closet as it emerged that "several" of Pakistan's players have been monitored by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) for some time. Cricinfo understands that Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal are part of a group of players the watchdog has been keeping a close eye on.
Added to this, influential sources close to the Pakistan team have said Mazhar Majeed, the man at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal that erupted at Lord's, has also been on the ACSU watchlist but investigations were hindered because he is an agent. "He has been under the scanner for some time. But he is the commercial agent to various players," said the source. "They are their official player agents who are doing all these endorsements. In that case nobody can question their presence."
And the source added: "There are a number of Pakistan players that have been under the ACSU scanner for a while now." He pointed out that the exercise was not only a reaction to Pakistan's ignominious tour of Australia earlier this year where they lost every match, including the controversial second Test at Sydney. At one stage Australia were just 49 ahead with only two wickets in hand, but managed to extend their advantage to 176. Pakistan then floundered badly and raised more than a few eyebrows by the manner in which they folded.
Kamran had also managed to drop four catches along with a missed run-out opportunity during Australia's second innings, and during the post-tour inquiry committee set up by the PCB Inthikab Alam and Aaqib Javed, the head coach and the assistant coach on the tour, raised doubts over Kamran's gloverwork. That lead to suspicions of match-fixing and Lord Paul Condon, the former head of the ACSU, said that series was being investigated.
"We are satisfied that that was a totally dysfunctional tour from a Pakistani point of view, and that dysfunctionality in the dressing room led to players not performing well, and maybe making them potentially underperform deliberately," Condon told Cricinfo before he retired. "What we still need to establish is whether that was because rival camps wanted to do down captains or potential captains, or whether it was something more serious, doing it for a financial fix."
As disclosed by the NOTW, Majeed allegedly said that Sydney was the last instance where he was involved in fixing a match. "Let me tell you the last Test we did. It was the second Test against Australia in Sydney," he told the undercover reporter. "Australia had two more wickets left. They had a lead of 10 runs, yeah. And Pakistan had all their wickets remaining. The odds for Pakistan to lose that match, for Australia to win that match, were I think 40 to 1.
"We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets," Majeed revealed. ''That one we made £1.3 [million]. But that's what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise.''
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo