'Betting scam' cricketers miss game to meet Pakistan officials

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The Independent Online

The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of an alleged betting scam look set to miss tomorrow's friendly against Somerset after a meeting with senior sporting and political figures from their home country scheduled for today has been put back 24 hours.

The players were due to meet Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and the country's high commissioner before rejoining the squad in Taunton, according to team manager Yawar Saeed.

But the Pakistan high commission said last night these is "no question" of any players being suspended over the alleged cricket betting scandal and the tour will continue. It said it was working closely with the PCB, adding: "So far no case has been made against any player. The PCB has emphasised that there is no question of calling off the tour or dropping any player from playing the matches."

The latest attempts by the Pakistan authorities to put a lid on the corruption scandal, which has caused huge damage to the reputations of both cricket and Pakistan, came as it emerged that three further arrests had been made.

The "fixer" at the centre of the tabloid sting, cricket agent Mazhar Majeed, was reported to have been among three people held as part of a separate inquiry by HM Revenue and Customs officials on Sunday, and questioned in connection with a long-running investigation into an alleged multimillion-pound money laundering operation. The two other people held are believed to be a 49-year-old unidentified man, and Mr Majeed's wife, Sheliza.

The arrests took place immediately after Mr Majeed was freed on bail on Sunday by Scotland Yard detectives investigating claims that he had paid Pakistan players to manipulate the Lord's Test match last week by delivering deliberate no-balls.

Mr Majeed was questioned by Scotland Yard officers over the weekend on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers following the so-called "spot fixing" allegations which emerged in the News of the World.

Mr Majeed's glittering client list includes the Pakistan captain Salman Butt and top bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – the men at the centre of the claims.

The Pakistan high commission's statement sets it at odds with England's Professional Cricketers' Association, whose chief executive Angus Porter said: "Speaking on behalf of the England team, we can say we think it would be preferable if those individuals who are named do not play in the forthcoming series."

His comments echo remarks made by the head of the world game, Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council. The ICC's anti-corruption and security unit is investigating the claims and Mr Lorgat said: "Make no mistake, once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out."

Meanwhile, England were at the centre of a selection drama of their own after it was announced that Kevin Pietersen will take no part in the remainder of the series. The batsman, who has performed poorly during the Test series but excels at Twenty20, angrily announced that he had been dropped via his Twitter page: "Man of the World Cup T20 and dropped from the T20 side too. It's a fuck up!"

Four hours later he issued a statement "clarifying" his remarks: "While I'm naturally disappointed to have been omitted from the England squad, I fully understand the reasons why and will be doing everything I can to get back into the England team."

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