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Zaheer Abbas thanks England

cricket Updated: Sep 21, 2010 14:35 IST

AFP
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Pakistan great Zaheer Abbas praised England on Tuesday for not abandoning the series with Pakistan despite a tour blighted by mounting allegations of corruption.

"England cricket officials and players should be praised for their positive stance of continuing cricket with Pakistan despite the controversy," Pakistan's only player to score century of first-class hundreds told AFP.

Abbas's words of appreciation came after Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt linked England cricketers to match-fixing, causing uproar.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rejected Butt's remarks as "wholly irresponsible and completely without foundation" but confirmed that England would play their two remaining one-day internationals against Pakistan.

Pakistan on Monday levelled the five-match series at 2-2. The final match is to be played in Southampton on Wednesday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched an investigation into a "certain scoring pattern" that emerged during Pakistan's victory over England at the Oval on Friday in the third one-day international.

It followed a report by British newspaper The Sun, which claimed to have been made aware of details of Pakistan's innings before the match got underway.

Last month another British tabloid, the News of the World, said Test captain Salman Butt, and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, were paid by an alleged bookie to under-perform during August's Test at Lord's.

All three players, as well as Wahab Riaz, were interrogated by London police earlier this month but no charges were levelled against them.

Abbas, who is hugely popular in England for his two double hundreds in the 1970s and successful county stint with Gloucestershire, said: "Cricket must go on as we strive hard to clean our beloved game.

"Had the England-Pakistan series been finished it would have been a great loss to the millions of fans.

"We must not succumb to corruption and must continue our efforts to clean the game which is an obsession for billions of people around the world."

The former Pakistan captain said any player found guilty must be punished, "so that no one dares to pollute our lovely game".

"I have played county cricket for 14 years and I know England players are clean and fair," Abbas added.

Abbas said the PCB owed a debt of gratitude to the ECB.

"It is ECB's great gesture to provide Pakistan their venues to play Australia in July this year and this should go on until we can play in our country," said Abbas.