Pakistan’s One-Day International and Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi had barred his players from having any interaction with the arrested bookmaker Mazhar Majeed when he led the team on the initial stages of the tour.
Pakistan cricket was thrown into turmoil when News Of The World, a British tabloid, revealed that Mazhar had paid off Pakistani fast-bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir for deliberately bowling no-balls in England’s first-innings of the final Test at Lord’s.
Majeed was arrested on Saturday night for ‘conspiring to defraud bookmakers’, and a raid at the team hotel took place by Scotland Yard but Pakistan agreed to continue the Test on the fourth day which they went on to lose by an innings and 225 runs.
Afridi warned of Mazhar
A team official confirmed that Afridi, when he led in two Twenty20s against Australia and first Test of the tour, told all the players not to interact with the London-based fixer who claimed to be the agent of various players.
“Afridi always doubted Mazhar and his brother Azhar Majeed and that’s why he strictly prohibited his entry in the team hotel and asked all the fellow players to stay away from them,” a team official told The Express Tribune adding that the ties between him and the players were resumed after Afridi returned home following his abrupt retirement from Test cricket.
The duo, which enjoyed a good relationship with a lot of the players and had often sought club contracts for a lot of Pakistani players, were spoken highly of by the players themselves.
‘They all wanted Salman as captain’
Mazhar, while revealing facts in Scotland Yard custody, admitted that Afridi was the barrier between him and players to fulfil their match-fixing requisites.
He revealed that the players under him were ready to throw two matches of the forthcoming ODI series against England because they were unhappy with the captain.
“They all want Salman Butt to be the captain in all formats because they feel Afridi is making things difficult for them,” he said.
Bookie fixed in London
The News of the World claimed their reporters had posed as front men for an Asian gambling cartel, paying £10,000 to the alleged fixer as an upfront deposit.
They met again on Wednesday in a London hotel room to hand over the rest of the money as their “entry ticket” into what the newspaper claimed was a “huge betting syndicate”.
The no-balls at the centre of the claims were bowled on Thursday and Friday.
Yawar confirms phone confiscation
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed denied that cricket in his country was driven by corruption in the wake of claims players had taken part in a betting scam in the Test match against England.
Asked if the British newspaper claims against his team proved that Pakistani cricket was “institutionally corrupt”, Saeed told Sky Sports.
“I would not like to say that. This is the first time I’ve been the manager and we’ve been involved in such a thing. Yes, one has heard and one has read [allegations], but I would not like to go that far.”
Saeed also confirmed that Salman, Aamir and Asif had their mobile telephones taken away by police on Saturday after being spoken to about the newspaper allegations.
Jhakrani promises strict action
Federal Sports Minister Ijaz Hussain Jhakrani has promised strict actions against the players who will fail to prove their innocence in fresh match fixing scandal that rocked Pakistan cricket. Jhakrani said the players will receive life-time ban if found guilty.
“Players found guilty of match-fixing face a lifetime ban,” he said. “The matter is under investigation and we will wait for a detailed report on the issue but there would be no respite for players who will found guilty.”
Former captain Ramiz Raja
“The PCB has always tried to cover involvement of players in match fixing which has cost Pakistan cricket. The board should have taken concrete steps to control the menace and we should learn from our past mistakes.”
Former ICC president Ehsan Mani
“It has come as an absolute shock to me. What was the Pakistan team management doing. I also blame the ICC. When a newspaper could uncover all this what was the unit doing, it is a shame for cricket.”
Senator Haroon Akhtar
“The PCB promised us that they won’t spare players suspected of shady dealings but the chairman went back on his word. This fresh controversy is a result of the board’s failure to take action against corrupt players.”
Former Pakistan batsman Basit Ali
“Rashid Latif (former Pakistan captain) had warned the ICC in a letter to be aware of this new trend of spot fixing in international cricket. No one took it seriously and this is the result now.”
Former captain Aamir Sohail
“It’s a disgrace for Pakistan cricket. I don’t think the board can do anything now when all this happened under their nose. It’s time for the President to act and show that we are serious about tackling corruption in sports.”
Former batsman Allan Lamb
“If any player is caught, they’ve got to be banned for life. We’ve got to wait until the police investigation, who the guilty parties are. Cricket has to go on, it can’t just stop. We’ve got to get rid of the people involved.”
Former captain Richie Benaud
“Sadly the people who now taint a great sport have become far more sophisticated in their ability to make dirty money out of the game. The ICC and the administrators in various countries must act fast.”
Former captain Michael Vaughan
“Anger is the only thought at the moment. I don’t see how the Pakistan players can get out of this latest setback. It’s just a great shame why such a thing has to happen. This is truly very sad.”
Former captain Nasser Hussain
“If the allegations were to be proven, a part of me says ‘good, about time’ because there have been allegations out there for a long time. Maybe it’s time something was done, if there was substantial proof.”
Former spinner Iqbal Qasim
“Pakistan cricket has seen every possible mishap happen, but allegations of spot-fixing is one of the greatest possible ones. Though it remains to be seen how our cricket can come out of it clean.”
Sports minister M Ali Shah
“It was because of the player-power that exists in Pakistan that the PCB didn’t take action against the alleged players. We need to educate players
and the management should be strong.”
Retired judge Qayyum
“The latest shame fell on Pakistan only because my recommendations were not fully implemented. Had those recommendations been implemented, this latest episode would not have happened.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2010.
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