Conspiracy to defraud Pakistan cricket - Ijaz Butt

A day after the ICC launched a formal investigation into Pakistan's win in the third ODI at The Oval, Ijaz Butt has hit back at what he believes to be a "conspiracy to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket"

Osman Samiuddin
Osman Samiuddin
Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, at a press conference in Lahore, September 9, 2010

Ijaz Butt: "We feel the media in certain countries is biased and not fair. We feel august cricket bodies are also involved in this conspiracy"  •  AFP

In an extraordinary outburst, PCB chairman Ijaz Butt has pointed a finger at the English cricketers for their role in the batting collapse that cost England the ODI at Oval and said the board was investigating a conspiracy, involving "august cricket bodies", to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket.
In a prepared statement read out to ESPNcricinfo - and repeated on Pakistan TV channels - a day after the ICC started a formal investigation into Pakistan's win in the third ODI at The Oval, he also launched thinly-veiled attacks on the ICC, some cricket boards and the media.
"This is not a conspiracy to defraud bookies but a conspiracy to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket," Butt said. "We have taken it in hand to start our own investigations. We will shortly reveal the names of the people, the parties and the bodies involved in this sinister conspiracy and we also reserve the right to sue them for damages.
"There is loud and clear talk in bookie circles that some English players have taken enormous amounts of money to lose the match [the third ODI]. No wonder there was such a collapse."
When asked by this reporter whether the board had any proof of the allegations regarding English players, Butt responded with a question: "Did you ask the other people who made allegations against our players whether they had any proof? What did they say? We have thought about this properly and we have positive proofs here before us just like they say they have also."
Butt then concluded his statement: "We feel the media in certain countries is biased and not fair. We feel august cricket bodies are also involved in this conspiracy, which will damage the great game of cricket."
The statement is an extension of the one the board released late on Saturday indicating its unhappiness with the way the ICC handled the Oval allegations. Nobody in the Pakistan board was informed by the ICC that an official investigation was being launched; the chairman, the team manager and the captain only learned of it through media reports.
An ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo they tried to contact Butt all through Friday but his phone was unavailable. "On Saturday morning [after the ICC press release was sent out] we came to know that Mr Butt was in Dubai. Haroon Lorgat [the ICC chief executive] sought out and met Butt in Dubai on Saturday evening and discussed matters of mutual interest," he said.
However, there is no indication that the ICC tried to contact anyone else in the PCB, nor tried to reach Butt - who was in New Delhi after meeting the ICC president Sharad Pawar - through any number other than his Pakistan mobile.
The PCB also seems unhappy with the official implication that Pakistan's batsmen were under the scanner. Though the ICC didn't point the finger at Pakistan in their statement - though The Sun did so in their report - the subsequent statement from the ECB confirmed that no English players were involved.
"One statement from a very august official of the ICC said no, only Pakistan players were involved," Butt said, though he refused to elaborate.
Butt also refused to give more details of the nature of the board's investigation, though he said it had already begun. "I will be revealing names of people and organisations who are involved in this, so I don't want to comment more on the investigations just now. Details will come out only once our investigations are complete."
Butt's comments may well signal the final nail in the coffin of the PCB's relationship with the ICC, if they have not completely broken down already. Under Butt's tenure, the two have clashed consistently. In 2009, the PCB threatened to take the ICC to court after Pakistan was removed as a venue from the 2011 World Cup, following the Lahore terror attacks on Sri Lanka in March. The dispute was resolved out of court but tensions have simmered consistently since.
They boiled over again in the aftermath of allegations of spot-fixing during the fourth Test at Lord's. The ICC provisionally suspended the three players at the centre of the scandal, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, after the Pakistan board refused to do so. At a press conference in Lahore soon after he returned, the board chairman expressed his unhappiness with the ICC's decision while a police investigation was still ongoing against the three.
Butt then went to Delhi to discuss the investigation and allegations with Sharad Pawar, the ICC president. He travelled on Saturday to Dubai, the ICC HQ, though it is unclear whether he has met with officials there. He said, however, that he would raise these issues at the next ICC meeting, on October 11.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo