LONDON // England's fourth one-day international against Pakistan went ahead at Lord's yesterday, despite the "outrage" felt by Andrew Strauss's team over Ijaz Butt's claims that they deliberately lost at The Oval. Strauss was quoted in a strongly-worded England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement yesterday. Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, claimed he was aware of bookmaker information that England's cricketers had "taken enormous amounts of money" to fix Friday's match, which the tourists won by 23 runs to make the series score 2-1.
Last night, Pakistan set a target of 266 in reply to which England were 126 for two in the 25th over. Strauss said: "We would like to express our surprise, dismay and outrage at the comments made by Mr Butt yesterday. We are deeply concerned and disappointed that our integrity as cricketers has been brought into question. "We refute these allegations completely and will be working closely with the ECB to explore all legal options open to us.
"Under the circumstances, we have strong misgivings about continuing to play the last two games of the current series and urge the Pakistani team and management to distance themselves from Mr Butt's allegations," he said. Butt's remarks, which follow an International Cricket Council (ICC) revelation that the world governing body were to investigate "a certain scoring pattern" - broadly perceived to implicate Pakistan but not England - after a tip-off from The Sun newspaper.
Meanwhile, Butt was on the offensive again yesterday. Speaking in Dubai, he accused the ECB of being biased in the fixing investigation engulfing the Pakistan team and threatening to sue those behind the "sinister conspiracy". In an interview with the Associated Press, Butt also said the ICC's handling of the investigation was "terrible" and Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive, should be sacked. Earlier this month, the ICC suspended three players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - over allegations they were paid to bowl no-balls during the fourth Test against England. Ijaz Butt also accused the ICC of acting without proof. "How have they have come to this conclusion?" he said of the suspensions. "There has been no investigation. This is definitely a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket."