Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Cricket chiefs vow fixing crackdown

Pakistan's Mohammad Asif arrives at the team hotel in Taunton

The Pakistani cricketers at the centre of match-fixing allegations face swift and firm punishment if found guilty, the game's ruling body said.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said there was no place for "corruption in this great game" and threatened "prompt and decisive action" against "those who seek to harm it".

The warning follows an outcry over newspaper allegations suggesting that members of the Pakistan team were part of a match-fixing ring.

Supported by video evidence, the News of the World alleged that two Pakistan fast bowlers agreed to bowl no balls - foul deliveries - at certain times during last week's Lord's Test.

On Monday, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) is investigating the allegations and helping police with their criminal inquiry.

He said: "Make no mistake - once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out. We will not tolerate corruption in this great game."

His statement followed talks with high-ranking officials from the England and Pakistan camps amid calls for Pakistan to be suspended from the game and the players concerned banned for life if the claims are proven. However, there was no move on Monday to suspend those players, meaning they can take the field against Somerset on Thursday and England in a Twenty20 international on Sunday.

Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed, 35, is on police bail as officers investigate claims that reporters from the News of the World posing as Far Eastern businessmen paid a middleman £150,000 in return for exact details relating to play at Lord's. The paper claims it was told exactly when three no balls would be bowled.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed has confirmed that Test captain Salman Butt, bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, and wicket keeper Kamran Akmal, were questioned by police at the team hotel on Saturday night.

Mr Lorgat added: "The integrity of the game is of paramount importance. Prompt and decisive action will be taken against those who seek to harm it. However, the facts must first be established through a thorough investigation and it is important to respect the right of due process when addressing serious allegations of this sort."

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