Published on 2 Sep 2010 Sections ,

Cricketers ‘set up’ over match-fix allegations

The Pakistani high commissioner has claimed three cricketers at the centre of spot-fixing claims have been “set up”, as the players have insisted their innocence.

Pakistani test captain Salman Butt, along with bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif had travelled to London for meeting with officials from the Pakistan Cricket Board and Wajid Hasan, the country’s high commissioner.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hasan said the “innocent players” players wanted to clear their names.

“The three players have said that they are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past week, especially with regard to their alleged involvement in the crime,” he said.

“They mentioned that they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such.

“They further maintain that, on account of the mental torture which has deeply affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play the remaining matches.

“Therefore they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the remaining matches.”

Mr Hasan said the players were “innocent”, and later cast doubt on the allegations made in Sunday’s News of the World around the timing of no balls delivered during last week’s fourth Test match at Lord’s.

He told BBC News: “We are not seeing on the video what the date or what the time is. Do you have answers to these questions?

“The video wasn’t timed or dated. It could have been dated before the match or after the match, or at a different time.”

Asked if he thought the three players had been “set up”, Mr Hasan said: “Yes, I would say that.”

However the High Commissioner’s claims were rejected by The News of the World as “ludicrous”, adding in a statement: “Watch this space”.

The remaining members of the Pakistan team have been in Taunton today playing Somerset.

Team manager Yawar Saeed had this morning told the media that the three players would not take part in the forthcoming Twenty20 and one-day internationals against England.

“The T20 squad will remain what it is here this morning, ie, 13 people,” he said.

“When we play the one-day internationals we will be asking for replacements to make the squad up to 16. The (three) players have not been suspended.”

There had been pressure for the three Pakistani players not to play in further matches in England while an investigation was carried out.

Haroon Lorgat, the head of the International Cricket Council, told Channel 4 News on Tuesday that he would unhappy if the players had played during the investigation into the claims.

“We would not be happy with that,” he said.

“That’s part of what we’re working through in the next few days. I don’t want to pre-empt anything and would rather the due process takes its course. It’s a very sensitive issue and I think we should let the law and the due process take its course.”

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board welcomed the announcement that the three would not be playing.

“I welcome the decision not to involve the three players under investigation in the rest of the series,” he said.

“The remaining matches will be played in the most competitive spirit possible.”

Butt, Asif and Aamer are being questioned after the News of the World said its reporters, who posed as Far Eastern businessmen had paid a middleman £150,000 to arrange for Pakistan players to deliberately bowl no-balls.

Detectives arrested cricket agent Mazhar Majeed, who also owns Croydon Athletic Football Club, after the report’s publication. He was later released on police bail.