England accused of ‘conspiracy’ behind match-fixing allegations
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES—Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt accused the England & Wales Cricket Board on Monday of being biased in the fixing investigation engulfing the Pakistan team and threatened to sue those behind the “sinister conspiracy.”
Butt also told The Associated Press the International Cricket Council’s handling of the investigation was “terrible” and its chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, should be fired.
The ICC opened another investigation over the weekend into alleged Pakistani fixing on the tour with England, following claims that the scoring pattern in Pakistan’s innings in last Friday’s one-day match was prearranged. Earlier, the ICC suspended three players over allegations they were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls during the fourth test against England.
Butt said the ECB had sent a letter to the ICC which he claimed suggested that the allegations of match fixing pertained solely to Pakistan. He did not provide a copy of the letter or say when it had been sent.
“This is biased thinking. This is biased views. This is biased action taken by some of the people,” Butt said, his voice rising with anger. “We have started an in-house investigation and we will book everybody who has done this. They said they will sue me.
“I will sue them. This is something totally wrong.”
Butt also accused the ICC of suspending players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir without proof.
The trio were suspended under the ICC’s anti-corruption code following allegations by the British tabloid News of the World that they were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls at pre-arranged moments in the fourth Test at Lord’s.
On Friday, London police passed their initial evidence to prosecutors to consider charges.
“How have they come to this conclusion?” Butt said of the suspension. “There has been no investigation. This is not fair. This is definitely a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket.”
Butt went on to suggest that the motives behind the suspension may be to undermine Pakistan’s chances in next year’s World Cup.
“Half our team is destroyed,” he said. “We are preparing for the World Cup.
“Maybe there are some countries that don’t want us to play in the World Cup. This is wrong. We will look into the conspiracy and definitely, definitely, definitely take action.”
He also said the PCB would call for some action to be taken against Lorgat at the ICC’s next meeting.
“I think he should resign or the ICC consider sacking him,” said Butt, who called Lorgat a friend. “He should apologize to me, to the players and remove suspensions.”
Butt stood by the allegations he made previously when he suggested the England players may have thrown Friday’s match at The Oval, which Pakistan won by 23 runs for its first victory since the ICC suspended three team members.
“Currently there is a lot of talk by bookies that some England players were involved in losing the match to Pakistan,” he said. “At one stage, five wickets fell for 17 runs.”
Asked to provide proof or the names of bookies, he said “in due course of time, we will make it public.”
Just before the start of the fourth one-day match at Lord’s Monday, England captain Andrew Strauss demanded the Pakistan team and management distance themselves from allegations by Butt. Strauss said the England team was “deeply concerned and disappointed that our integrity as cricketers has been brought into question.”
Butt acknowledged more needed to be done to address concerns about match fixing and what he called the “new menace” of spot fixing. He said if any players on the Pakistan team is proven to have been involved in wrongdoing that the PCB will “throw the book at the them.”
He also said the PCB will now require agents to be registered with the board before they can represent a player. He said this new rule was enacted in response to concerns that “some bookies were also agents of the players.”
Butt also said he was confident the series next month in the United Arab Emirates between Pakistan and South Africa would go on, including an added Twenty20 match Oct. 26 in Abu Dhabi to raise money for flood victims.
The ICC said it would not comment on Butt’s remarks.