Broad unsympathetic of Pakistan problems

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The Independent Online

Pakistan face an unenviable task to clear their minds of the 'spot-fixing' crisis in order to do themselves justice against England - but they will be getting no sympathy from their hosts.

Stuart Broad, speaking after England's opening five-wicket win in Cardiff and preparing for today's second and final NatWest International Twenty20 of the series, believes Pakistan simply have to put the controversy behind them.

The tourists are minus the limited-overs services of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - all three charged and suspended by the International Cricket Council over allegations of a plot to defraud illegal bookmakers.

Broad, however, insists the bottom line is that both teams have to rise above the claims and counter-claims off the field - and simply do their best on it. "Sympathy? No," he said.

"At the end of the day, as cricketers, you've got one job - and that's to perform on the pitch.

"You've got to focus on your bowling and your batting, and that's what we've done very well professionally as an England team."

Paul Collingwood's ICC World Twenty20 champions returned to the format for the first time since their victory in the Caribbean almost four months ago, with a workmanlike success against previous holders Pakistan.

"There's always distractions in international cricket - because that's part of being an international sportsman, probably more than most this week," added Broad.

"That's why as players you've got to be able to shut things out and focus on what you've got to do.

"I'm sure for the Pakistan team, there's everyone following them around and there's a lot of hype around them at the minute.

"That would be difficult to do, but at the end of the day that's not our problem. We've just got to go out there and try to win. In international sport you get distractions all the time, but that shouldn't affect how you deliver a ball or how you hit a ball.

"That's all off-the-field stuff."

Broad is a former county team-mate of Asif's - in their Leicestershire days - and was planning to catch up socially with his fellow seamer after this month's final limited-overs match.

He is unlikely to be able to do so, however, with Asif out of the series.

"He's a lovely fellow. I got on really well with him and he's obviously a world-class bowler," he said.

"But obviously these allegations have come from the News of the World, and it will be interesting to see how it curtails and when it curtails.

"He is a seriously talented bowler. I only played about three games with him, but he was fantastic to learn from.

"Throughout this series I was saying to him 'at the end of this series I would like to have a chat with you.

"But with him being left out of the squad, it's probably not going to happen."

Pakistan's associate manager Shafqat Rana and limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi have both welcomed reports that their country's tax authorities are to scrutinise players' financial assets.

It emerged in Pakistan, following the 'spot-fixing' crisis, that the government is to sanction the assistance of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Rana is all in favour of a move he suggests was already a possibility long before any Pakistani players were named in connection with the controversy which has rocked cricket for the past week.

"I think it's a good thing from the government," he said.

"It was there in their minds before we came over. It will bring things out, so they will be very careful.

"Shahid is of the same opinion that it should be done, and it's good for cricket."