Ijaz Butt, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has defended the decision not to suspend from domestic competition the three players accused of spot-fixing during the recent tour of England, claiming it would have sent the wrong message.
Butt insisted the players - Salman Butt, the Pakistan captain, and pace bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - had simply been withdrawn, not suspended, from the side following allegations in the News of the World of spot-fixing in the fourth Test match against England.
"We didn't take action against them and let the ICC [International Cricket Council] follow its course of action," Butt told the Pakistani newspaper The News.
"We didn't want to send out a message to the world that we believed our players were tainted. The world would have believed that the trio was indeed guilty of spot-fixing." S
alman Butt, Aamer and Asif were also selected as reserves by their regional sides for a domestic Twenty20 tournament likely to be staged in October.
Rawalpindi picked Aamer, Lahore selected Salman Butt, and Asif was included by Sialkot, the defending champions. The ICC responded to the players' alleged links to illegal betting scams by suspending them pending appeal.
However, Ijaz Butt - who was on his way to London to meet with solicitors over the allegations - maintained the ICC action was taken without gathering substantial evidence. "We have our reservations over the decision to suspend the players without proof," he said.
"But we have co-operated with the ICC anti-corruption and security unit. And as a board we have a responsibility to ensure that no one keeps on making unsubstantiated allegations against our players."
Meanwhile, with the tension-laden series against Pakistan behind them, England's players completed the first stage of their preparations for this winter's Ashes series, returning home yesterday from their five-day "development camp" in the of south of Germany.
The camp saw the 16-member squad undertake a series of team-building exercises before visiting the Holocaust memorial site at Dachau, the first of Adolf Hitler's concentration camps, where more than 40,000 people died.
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, said the trip had been a worthwhile venture.
"Following our trip to Flanders last year, this was an opportunity for the players to spend time away from the cricketing environment, learn more about the wider world and develop ourselves both individually and collectively," he said.