The Pakistan team held an emergency meeting yesterday after fresh allegations of corruption involving players from the team. The News of the World reported that a fourth player was being investigated over match-fixing allegations, leading to speculation they could pull out of the series. The team did, however, take the field for the Twenty20 international against England yesterday.
"We are going to the ground for the match and that means the series is on," Yawar Saeed, the Pakistan team manager, told Geo Super Channel. The News of the World quoted Yasir Hameed, the Pakistan batsman, as saying that some of his teammates were fixing matches. The newspaper also quoted Hameed as saying he had been offered up to £150,000 (Dh851,305) to throw a match. If Hameed did not report the approach, he could be charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) under its anti-corruption code.
The newspaper said Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer face a total of 23 charges from the ICC, and alleged that at least £10,000 of marked bank notes it handed to a middleman in exchange for information about no-balls has been recovered from Butt's locker. It also claimed that a fourth Pakistan player is being investigated by the ICC, but that he cannot be named for legal reasons. The ICC said it had no comment on the report. The lawyers representing the three Pakistan players are unaware of the police wishing to speak to a fourth player.
Hameed was quoted by Dawn News, a private television channel in Pakistan, denying the claims the News of the World said he made to an undercover reporter. "I have not given any interview," Dawn News quoted Hameed as saying. "All the claims of newspapers are false. I can't think of giving any statement like this one. Whatever the newspaper has written, it's their own. I have not alleged any Pakistan player of match fixing."
Hameed again denied making these allegations, even though the newspaper released a video of the interview with him. "I was approached by this guy about a deal for sticker sponsorship on my bat. It was a general discussion and I just repeated what had already been published in the News of the World," Hameed told Reuters. "I was tricked into this interview I never knew they were recording it which is a serious offence and I am talking to the Pakistan team management about it," he said.
Hameed also cast doubt over the 2004 Champions Trophy semi-finals with West Indies, who won the match by seven wickets. When asked by an undercover reporter from the News of the World what games have been fixed, the Pakistan batsman replied: "The ICC Champions Trophy [at the] Rose Bowl, we lost a match against West Indies, do you remember?" Ian Bradshaw, the former West Indies bowler, doubts his team's win was fixed, saying "we won fair and square".
Meanwhile, Daniel Vettori says life bans should be imposed on players found to have fixed cricket matches, saying extreme steps must be taken to defend "the spirit of the game." "If you're caught, you have to be banned for life," the New Zealand captain told the Sunday Star-Times newspaper. He said the allegations that Pakistan players bowled no-balls at predetermined times had undermined cricket's credibility. "That's the only way that you are going to stamp it out, and if these allegations are proven to be true there has to be a precedent set."