Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Cricket: 'No evidence' against Pakistan captain Salman Butt in betting scam probe

Salman Butt took over as captain of the Pakistan team only last month after the retirement of Shahid Afridi

Pakistan captain Salman Butt has seen no evidence that he is implicated in any of the 'spot-fixing' allegations against members of his team.

England's victory in the fourth npower Test at Lord's was entirely overshadowed today by newspaper revelations - and the subsequent arrest of a 35-year-old man, from outside the Pakistan squad - alleging attempts to defraud bookmakers.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed has confirmed Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif had their mobile phones taken away by Scotland Yard officers investigating the case at the tourists' hotel last night.

Butt, however, said: "These are just allegations. Anybody can stand up and say things about you - it doesn't make them true.

"They include quite a few people. They are still ongoing, and we will see what happens.

"There is nothing I have seen, or been shown, that involves me."

Asked whether there is cause already for him to resign from the captaincy - a position 25-year-old Butt took over only last month after the retirement of Shahid Afridi - he said: "Pakistan have won a Test match from Australia after 15 years and from England after nine years - so does that mean I should resign from this current situation?"

Butt declined the opportunity to publicly deny allegations made against him in a newspaper investigation which also named 18-year-old Aamer and Asif.

Instead, during a joint press conference with Saeed, it was the team manager who responded to the majority of questions posed specifically about the 'spot-fixing' reports.

"Allegations are only one thing. They are all serious, whether they are small or big," said Saeed.

"No allegations are true until they are proved either way, so at this point of time they are just allegations."

Saeed, who committed Pakistan to honouring a schedule of two Twenty20s and a five-match NatWest Series against England next month, admitted the team have been shaken by the controversy.

They suffered the heaviest defeat in their history - by an innings and 225 runs - after being hustled out for only 147 in their second innings this morning.

Saeed acknowledged the team, who did not have time to practise before batting because of their late arrival at the ground, were hardly in the best frame of mind to give their best in a Test match.

"Obviously we are not delighted about it; we are sad. It was very sober feelings in the dressing room," he said.

"We didn't have a cup of coffee either this morning.

"We didn't want one, because I was talking to the team. A lot had happened overnight, and it was my duty to talk to them - and get their focus back on to the match.

"As far as the Scotland Yard investigations are concerned, I wouldn't like to say anything more yet - because it is not right for us to do that.

"Scotland Yard officers came, interviewed, came to my room, went to his [Butt's] room and two more. They were there for about two or three hours.

"After that, I asked them if there was anything we could do. They said 'no'."

The next task for Saeed is an urgent meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt.

A post-series debrief is mandatory, but Saeed confirmed he will be speaking to Butt at the team hotel today.

"As a manager, whether they [PCB] ask for it or not, I will give my report.

"I have not spoken to them today, because we came to the ground. Now the series is over, I will certainly talk to them.

"The chairman of the PCB is in town, and I will be seeing him and giving him my report. I will be meeting him this afternoon."

There is no suggestion from Pakistan at this stage that the limited-overs leg of their tour is in jeopardy.

They are due to travel to Taunton for a warm-up match against Somerset on Thursday, and Saeed said: "As far as I am concerned, the one-day series is on.

"We are moving to the west country tomorrow and we will play all the one-day matches and the T20s."

It was left to Butt, meanwhile, to reflect on the ignominious end to a Test campaign in which Pakistan were occasionally competitive but always vulnerable and went out on a dispiriting low for themselves and their sport.

"We didn't play good cricket. England played a lot of good cricket in this game," he said, before insisting this morning's loss of six wickets for 106 runs - despite Umar Akmal's 79 not out - was not merely the result of the 'spot-fixing' stress.

"It is not something you can connect with the morning's display, because yesterday evening the team collapsed to 74 all out."

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