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Pakistan cricketers suspended on corruption charges

Yasir HameedLONDON: A teammate of the three Pakistan cricketers suspended on corruption charges has reportedly claimed that players on his team have been fixing ”almost every match.”

The News of the World newspaper quotes opening batsman Yasir Hameed as saying Pakistan players are throwing matches.

”They were doing it in almost every match,” Hameed was quoted as saying by the News of the World newspaper. ”God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages.

”It makes me angry because I’m playing my best and they are trying to lose.”

Hameed played in last week’s fourth test against England, in which Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are alleged to have deliberately bowled no-balls in conspiracy with bookmakers.

The International Cricket Council suspended Asif, Amir and test captain Salman Butt this week while it investigates them for various offenses under the sport’s anti-corruption code.

The ICC has not detailed the charges, which followed a sting operation detailed in last week’s News of the World that alleged that a middleman accepted payment in exchange for the deliberate no-balls in the match at Lord’s, which Pakistan lost by an innings and 225 runs for its worst ever test defeat.

The ICC has called it the biggest fixing scandal to hit cricket for a decade. The News of the World said its Sunday edition will claim that a fourth Pakistan player is being investigated by the ICC, but that he cannot be named for legal reasons.

The tabloid said Butt, Amir and Asif face a total of 23 charges from the ICC. The captain of Pakistan’s limited overs teams has apologized to cricket fans for the controversy.

Shahid Afridi said Saturday that the players in the squad for the remaining two Twenty20 and five one-day matches against England were upset by the allegations.

”On behalf of these boys, I know they’re not in this series, I want to say sorry to all cricket lovers and all cricketing nations,” Afridi said.

”It’s very bad news,” Afridi said ahead of Sunday’s first Twenty20 in Cardiff. ”It’s a big challenge for me as captain but we’re all ready. The coach and I are not talking about the issue _ we are here to play cricket.”

The trio were released without criminal charge after being questioned by London police on Friday but could be banned from cricket for life if found guilty.

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s legal adviser said Saturday that Butt, Amir and Asif have denied knowledge of any alleged wrongdoing by the middleman, agent Mazhar Majeed.

”The players have informed the police that the man was their agent, but they had no knowledge,” about his alleged wrongdoing, Tafazzul Rizvi told private television channels in Pakistan.

The News of the World has accused Majeed of acting as a middleman, accepting money in exchange for getting Asif and Amir to bowl intentional no-balls.

”I’ve told the boys, ‘don’t read the newspapers,”’ Afridi said. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said Friday the allegations that the case was the most serious case of corruption since South Africa captain Hansie Cronje was banned for life 10 years ago.

Cronje admitted to forecasting results in exchange for money from a London bookmaker, prompting the ICC to create its Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).

The News of the World said that its Sunday edition will include proof that Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan was mistaken in his assertion that the paper recorded Majeed discussing the timing of the no-balls after they were bowled on Aug. 26.

Hasan, Pakistan’s top diplomat in Britain, has accused the ICC of bias for banning the players while police are still looking into the case.

”After the shocking, arbitrary and high-handed suspension of the three Pakistani cricketers through the ICC’s uncalled for action, nothing is coming to me as a surprise,” Hasan said in a statement Friday. ”Rather, my apprehensions that there is a rat in the whole affair are being strengthened.”

Lorgat has denied that the charges were evidence of bias and said the ICC was committed to maintaining the country’s status as a full member of the body. -AP

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