31 Aug 2010

Investigators sent to London by Pakistan over cricket betting scam

9:22 am on 31 August 2010

Investigators from Pakistan are flying to London to examine reports that some of the country's cricketers were involved in a betting scam.

The team from Pakistan's highest law enforcement agency, the FIA, will join Scotland Yard officers to investigate a report that two players deliberately bowled no-balls during the final Test against England at Lord's.

A British newspaper reported it paid a cricket agent to provide advance details of when three no-balls would be bowled.

A man at the centre of events, Mazhar Majeed, 35, has been released on bail in London.

The News of the World reported on Saturday that it paid him £150,000 for advance details of when three no-balls would be played in the latest Test at Lord's in London, which England won by an innings and 225 runs to take the series 3-1 at the weekend.

He was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

Three players, including team captain Salman Butt, have already been questioned.

International Cricket Council president Sharah Pawar says if there is any truth in the accusations, then what he calls ruthless action will be taken.

He told a news conference in Mumbai that he is absolutely confident that the England Pakistan Boards will never encourage or protect anybody who has done a wrong thing.

Several former England and Pakistan skippers have decried the situation, calling for life bans.

Tip of the iceberg - Hussain

However, ex-England skipper Nasser Hussain said he feared the accusations were just the tip of the iceberg.

Former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed says it seems that several Pakistan players have been involved in so-called spot fixing for some time.

Pakistan's leading players are reported to be on salaries of about $NZ35,000, a relative pittance compared with their Indian neighbours.

The press in Pakistan says the scandal involving top cricketers is an act of shameful betrayal for a flooded nation that worships the game.

An English language daily, The News, says Pakistan cricket faces a very uncertain future once again and the only way forward may be to sack everyone and start from scratch.

But the country's second most popular newspaper, Daily Express, says the scandal is an Indian conspiracy against Pakistan.