ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit’s Deputy Secretary Hassan Raza has reached Pakistan for investigation into the spot fixing scandal.
Hassan Raza will investigate the presence of book makers in Lahore. He is also likely to meet Veena Malik relating to claims she has made of having prior knowledge of the scam.
Raza will collect evidence regarding the betting scam.
Trio await probe
Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif embroiled in betting scam allegations were preparing Wednesday to face questioning which is almost certain to sideline them from the team’s tour of England.
The players look set to miss Pakistan’s match with county side Somerset in Taunton Thursday, a warm-up match before their limited overs internationals against England.
They were due to face questions from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner (ambassador) to Britain, in London Wednesday but the meeting has now been put back 24 hours.
It appears increasingly likely that they will play no further part in the tour amid mounting calls for the trio to be barred from appearing while the probe into the allegations is ongoing.
Following the Somerset warm-up, Pakistan play two Twenty20 matches against England in Cardiff on Sunday and Tuesday, then five one-day internationals. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has promised “prompt and decisive action” if the “spot-fixing” allegations linked to betting rings made by Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper are proven.
Its chief executive Haroon Lorgat hopes there will be “some sort of conclusion” to the probe within the next few days. England’s players meanwhile are reportedly reluctant to line up against a Pakistan team containing the tainted trio, according to Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive Angus Porter.
“The England players understand it is important the games go ahead and they will be professional but they would or will find it really difficult to play against the guys directly implicated,” Porter said. “Our strong feeling is a way needs to be found to ensure that they are either suspended or, if that is not possible, some other solution is found so that they do not play,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.
Customs officials in Britain meanwhile said they had arrested and bailed two men and a woman “as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering”. A source confirmed the arrests were linked to the cricket scandal.
The furore erupted on Sunday when The News of the World alleged Mazhar Majeed, a 35-year-old agent for several Pakistan players, took 150,000 pounds (185,000 euros, 230,000 dollars) to arrange for deliberate no-balls to be bowled at precise points in last week’s final Test match against England in London.
The information would be of enormous value to the spot-betting industry, where money is wagered on specific incidents in matches. Majeed was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers in the wake of the allegations, but was released on bail without charge on Sunday, to return at a later date.
Detectives interviewed Butt, Asif and 18-year-old prodigy Aamir, who delivered the no-balls — normally an accidental and unpredictable occurrence — and police seized their mobile phones.
The world of cricket has reacted with shock and dismay to claims that huge sums of money had changed hands in alleged fixing schemes at international level, linked to shadowy betting rings. Investigators from the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit are in Britain looking into the allegations.
Indian film drops Asif
The news has also shocked fans in Pakistan but has also had its effects across the border. Reports in the Indian media suggest that Asif has been dropped from a planned role in an Indian film following the allegations.
The film which intended to chart the life of a Pakistani cricket coach in the Southern Kerala state was taking Asif as the lead. The film’s director, Kaitha-pram Damodoran Namboo Thiri said he had no option but to drop Asif when the scandal broke.
Australian stars targeted by suspected bookmaker
Meanwhile in Australia, it has emerged that four cricket stars were targeted by a suspected illegal bookmaker. Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson were targeted by the unnamed figure who approached two team-mates in England last year, reports said on Wednesday. The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph said Lee and Johnson were confronted in the team hotel’s bar during the tour of England, fuelling fears over illegal betting after a newspaper sting snared an alleged match-fixer.