The match fixing scandal that has rocked Pakistani and world cricket is spreading beyond the Lord’s Test. Reports now point towards more games being rigged, even during Pakistan’s tour of Australia — as many as 80 ODIs and Tests involving Pakistan could be investigated.
This, even as top former world cricketers called for suspending the accused players and growing anger among Pakistan’s cricket fans. British media also said the England squad was unhappy playing against the current Pakistani side.
The ICC put up a brave face with chief Sharad Pawar promising “appropriate” action against any player found guilty, but also allowing Pakistan’s tour of England to continue.
In Pakistan, angry fans held demonstrations in Lahore and other cities, demanding action against those found guilty and that the PCB take a serious view of this latest scandal to hit the country’s team.
The Pakistani team left London for Taunton on Monday for a warm-up match against Somerset on Thursday, ahead of a one-day and Twenty20 series.
The team officials refused to comment on the accusations But there has been no categorical denial either.
A sting operation implicated Test skipper Salman Butt, pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal in a match fixing scam on Sunday.
Police though, have questioned all four players at their hotel and confiscated the mobile phones of Asif, Amir and Butt, according to manager Saeed. But with police yet to decide whether to treat the men as witnesses or conspirators, they are likely to be re-interviewed.
The Daily Telegraph quoting sources said it was "highly unlikely" that Butt, Amir and Asif will be picked for the ODIs and Twenty20 games.
Meanwhile, the Independent newspaper reported that investigating officers found large quantities of bank notes in the hotel rooms of several Pakistani players.
The paper said this investigation meant there was the possibility of "members of an international cricket team being arrested and facing prosecution in Britain before the tourists leave after the final game of their summer tour on 22 September".
This, though, could not be independently ascertained or confirmed. Sources though indicated that any police case against players could hinge on whether the notes that were found match the marked currency notes given as payment to Majeed by the tabloid News of the World, which exposed the scandal on Sunday.
The man allegedly in the middle of the fixing scam, 35-year-old property developer and cricket agent Mazhar Majeed, was released without charge on bail on Sunday night after being arrested the same day on "suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers".