Pakistan cricketers may be asked to quit tour

Four Pakistan cricketers accused of involvement in an alleged betting scam may be asked to withdraw from the remainder of the team’s tour of England and Wales while the investigation continues.

Four Pakistan cricketers accused of involvement in an alleged betting scam may be asked to withdraw from the remainder of the team’s tour of England and Wales while the investigation continues.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, London’s High Commission for Pakistan and the country’s sports ministry in Islamabad will today hold a conference call to discuss the best way forward regarding Test captain Salman Butt, bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif plus wicket keeper Kamran Akmal.

It is expected the quartet will be asked to withdraw from the forthcoming Twenty20 internationals and one-day internationals, which begin on Sunday at Cardiff.

The four players were named in the News of the World in connection with an alleged plot to deliberately bowl no-balls to order in the recently concluded fourth Test at Lord's.

The newspaper said reporters posing as Far Eastern businessmen paid a middleman £150,000 (€182,000) to arrange the deal.

The cricketers were questioned by Scotland Yard officers at their London hotel and Butt, Asif and Aamer had their mobile phones confiscated.

Mazhar Majeed, a cricket agent who also owns Croydon Athletic Football Club, was arrested then released on police bail.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt last night stressed the allegations had not been proved and there were no immediate plans to suspend the players.

Haroon Lorgat, of the sport’s ruling body the International Cricket Council (ICC), said he hoped there would be “some sort of a conclusion” to the investigation by the weekend.

The ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU) is also investigating the claims and Mr Lorgat said “prompt and decisive action” would be taken against anyone who sought to harm the game’s integrity.

“Make no mistake – once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out.

“We will not tolerate corruption in this great game.”

Cricketers found guilty of cheating could be thrown out of the sport but Mr Lorgat said “a couple of individuals that might have got caught up in corrupt practices” should not bring the entire game to a standstill.

The team is due to play a friendly against Somerset on Thursday.

Players refused to answer questions from reporters as they arrived at their hotel in Taunton yesterday.

Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)- the country’s highest law enforcement agency – has sent three investigators to the UK.

Reports have suggested other matches may have been fixed and up to 80 international Tests could form part of the police investigation.

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