Belfast Telegraph

Cricket: ICC want speedy conclusion to Pakistan investigation

World cricket's governing body are hoping for "some sort of a conclusion" in the investigation into allegations of corruption involving a number of Pakistan cricketers before Sunday's Twenty20 clash with England.

Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, revealed that talks today between the ICC, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Pakistan Cricket Board yielded the agreement that any player found guilty of the claims against them should be thrown out of the sport.

The remainder of Pakistan's tour of England was placed in question following allegations in the News Of The World that seven members of the team - including captain Salman Butt, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and star bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - were involved with illegal betting syndicates.

The ICC did not suspend the players today, meaning as it stands they could line up against Somerset on Thursday and against England in a Twenty20 international on Sunday.

Lorgat told BBC Radio Five Live: "We are working hard.

"We realise the (Twenty20) game starts on Sunday.

"We're busy with the Metropolitan Police and hopefully before the weekend arrives we can get to some sort of a conclusion.

"But it's an individual's right that you're innocent until proven guilty."

He added: "I'm in touch with the investigators.

"It's likely I might have to come across to London.

"But this is a live issue which moves with the hour, every hour."

Lorgat gave an insight to how the talks involving the ICC, ECB and PCB progressed today.

"We were ensuring among all of us that we want to see the same outcome and same objectives," Lorgat said.

"And that is for anyone found guilty of corruption to be taken out of the sport.

"We have got that commitment from all the parties.

"At the moment, it is also appropriate that the game continues. We shouldn't let everyone suffer because of a couple of individuals that might have got caught up in corrupt practices.

"The vast majority of players are not guilty of any such behaviour. They play the sport in the right spirit, and there are many fans who want to watch the game.

"We shouldn't let a couple of individuals, a few players, bring the entire game to a standstill."

He conceded: "I think the reputation of the game has been tarnished and it's something we must make right.

"There's no question people's confidence would have been swayed. But we must ensure the vast majority of players who play the game well are provided with that opportunity and the spectators would respect those players."

Mazhar Majeed, a known associate of the Pakistan team, was arrested and then bailed without charge yesterday as part of a Scotland Yard investigation, while Butt, Asif and Aamer had their mobile phones confiscated.

But with the eyes of the cricketing world on the team, today they travelled from London to Somerset, ahead of the tour match at Taunton.

The News of the World allegations against the tourists are wide-reaching - starting with suggestions of 'spot-fixing' no-balls in the fourth npower Test against England at Lord's and going as far as citing fixed matches in the past and looking ahead to the forthcoming one-day series.

While the police investigation is under way, Lorgat confirmed the ICC are ready to take their own separate action, depending on the findings of their own anti-corruption and security unit.

"I would believe so," Lorgat said. "We've got our own code of conduct. We have to though prove the allegations.

"That is important from a legal and a due process point of view.

"We've got our own protocols, our own procedures, and we are following up several leads, and if anything can provide us with a basis of laying our own charges against any of the players involved then we would certainly do so."

He explained: "Personally I'm extremely disappointed. It's not something any of us want to hear about, let alone see in front of our own eyes. I'm very, very disappointed by what has transpired."

Somerset are fully expecting Thursday's fixture to take place.

Asked whether there were any concerns over a potential fan protest, Somerset chief executive Richard Gould told Press Association Sport: "We prepare for all contingencies but we think that is the furthest thing from what is likely to happen at Somerset.

"This game has been looked forward to by many of our supporters and members and we think they will give the Pakistan team a warm welcome."

A three-man team from Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency - the country's highest law enforcement agency - has been sent to England.

Interior minister Rehman Malik said the investigators would help Scotland Yard but also investigate the allegations independently.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who officially launched the FIA investigation, said: "The latest fixing allegations have bowed our heads in shame.

"I have ordered a thorough inquiry into these allegations so that action could be taken against those who are proven guilty."

South Africa's cricket board tonight said they expected their planned eight-match series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates to go ahead in October and November.

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