Former ICC chief calls for Pakistan team ban, future tours in doubt over betting allegations

By Dennis Passa, AP
Monday, August 30, 2010

Former ICC chief calls for Pakistan team ban

BRISBANE, Australia — Allegations of a match-fixing scandal involving Pakistan has the country’s future tours in doubt, led to a call by a former International Cricket Council chief for a team ban and renewed suspicions over a test match it played in Australia in January.

Police questioned Pakistan players on the weekend after Britain’s News of the World newspaper alleged that bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls during Thursday’s opening day of the fourth test that England went on to win by an innings and 225 runs.

Malcolm Speed, an Australian who was the chief executive of the ICC from 2001-2008, said Monday he was concerned by what “looks a fairly compelling case” of rigged betting and called for a team ban.

“I think that’s (suspension) an option. It’s serious,” Speed said.

“It looks as though it is endemic that several of the team members are involved and have been for some time. So perhaps they need a rest. The News of the World do this sort of thing very well and it’s very graphic.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter that he anticipated action against the players involved.

“I don’t see how they can get out of this one,” Vaughan said.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan told The Associated Press on Monday his organization could not immediately comment on the allegations against Pakistan players or discuss ramifications for its future tour schedule. Pakistan is scheduled to tour New Zealand in December.

“We’re waiting until we get a clearer picture,” Vaughan said. “We hope to be able to make a statement within the next couple of days.”

Any player found guilty of involvement in match fixing faces a life ban from the sport.

Pakistan lawmaker Iqbal Mohammad Ali, who also heads the lower house’s standing committee on sports, called for the players in question to be removed from the team ahead of scheduled limited-overs games against England.

“Whosoever is involved should be banned for life,” he said. “All those who are suspected should be sent back home.”

Pakistan captain Salim Malik and a teammate became the first players to be banned for match fixing in 1999. The following year, South Africa captain Hanse Cronje and former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin were banned after a conspiracy in which Cronje admitted to forecasting results in exchange for money from a London bookmaker.

The ICC created its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit in response to the incidents.

Australia’s Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were fined in 1995 for taking money from an Indian bookmaker in exchange for information on pitch and weather conditions.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell says revelations about the match-fixing scheme again places considerable doubt on the outcome of Pakistan’s Sydney test against Australia in January.

An England-based Pakistan player agent arrested for alleged corruption following the News of the World story claimed he made more than a million dollars betting on a game that saw Australia come-from-behind for an extraordinary victory.

Ricky Ponting’s team trailed Pakistan by more than 200 runs after the first innings, and with eight wickets down in the second innings had only a 50-run lead when Nathan Hauritz became the eighth man out and Peter Siddle joined Mike Hussey in the crease.

Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal dropped four catches from the pair, including three from Hussey, who — with the aid of some unusual field placings — scored 134 not out.

There were claims in Pakistan after the game that the match was fixed, but they were never proved. Akmal was dropped from the next match, however.

“Obviously for them to lose that game they had to be one of two things: the worst test players of all time or the best match-fixers of all time,” Chappell said in The Australian newspaper on Monday.

Speed says the Sydney match needs to be reinvestigated.

“The Sydney test was under a cloud earlier this year. But yes, that needs to be looked at again,” Speed told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Ponting said he had no suspicions about the game at the time, but now does.

“I had no idea about anything like that at all,” Ponting said Monday. “The way we won was one of the more satisfying moments that I’ve had on the cricket field.

“And now when some of these things come to light is when you start to slightly doubt some of the things that have happened.”

Hussey said Monday he still didn’t feel Pakistan did anything unusual.

“They were certainly going very hard to get the wickets out there,” Hussey said. “I didn’t think there was anything untoward going on …”

The arrested agent, who was bailed without charge but asked to appear before police at a later date, was in Australia with Pakistan during the test series.

He boasted to News of the World he had arranged the Sydney result.

“Let me tell you the last test we did,” Mazhar Majeed said on secret recordings. “It was the second test against Australia in Sydney. Australia had two more wickets left. They had a lead of 10 runs, yeah. And Pakistan had all their wickets remaining.

“The odds for Pakistan to lose that match, for Australia to win that match, were I think 40-1. We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets.

“That one we made 1.3 (million dollars). But that’s what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests is where the biggest money is because those situations arise.”

AP Sports Writers Stuart Condie in London, Steve McMorran in Wellington, New Zealand, Rizwan Ali in Islamabad and Associated Press Writer Richard Sydenham in London contributed to this report.

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