Butt refuses to say sorry for England fixing allegations

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The Independent Online

The Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt has refused to apologise for his suggestion that England players fixed a match in the one-day series that finished last week. Butt, who arrived in London yesterday, also defended his decision not to suspend the three players accused of spot-fixing during the Test series that preceded the one-day games, claiming it would have sent out the wrong message.

Butt had been threatened with legal action in a letter from the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Professional Cricketers' Association over his accusations against the England team. He told a Pakistani newspaper there was "loud and clear talk in the bookies' circle" that England were paid to lose the third match of the series at The Oval on 17 September.

On the subject of the three players – captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – accused over the Lord's Test, Butt insisted they had simply been withdrawn, not suspended, from the side due to allegations of spot-fixing in the fourth Test against England. Butt is in London to meet solicitors to discuss the case.

"We didn't take action against them, and let the ICC follow its course of action," Butt said. "We didn't want to send out a message to the world that we believed our players were tainted. The world would have believed that the trio were indeed guilty of spot-fixing."

The ICC responded to claims over the players' alleged links to illegal betting scams by suspending the accused trio pending appeal. However, Butt maintained the ICC action was taken without gathering substantial evidence. "We have our reservations over the decision to suspend the players without proof," he said. "But we have co-operated with the ICC anti-corruption unit. And as a board we have a responsibility to ensure that no one keeps on making unsubstantiated allegations against our players."

The England batsman Ravi Bopara has signed to play for South African franchise the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins. Bopara, 25, will play in two first-class matches and South Africa's domestic limited-overs series, which runs from 29 October to 10 December. The right-handed Bopara was left out of England's Ashes squad but will hope to feature in the limited-overs series.

England's players, meanwhile, returned home from their "development camp" in southern Germany yesterday. The five-day camp saw the squad undertake a series of team-building exercises before visiting Dachau, the first of Hitler's concentration camps.

Captain Andrew Strauss said: "This was an opportunity to learn and develop ourselves," he said. England will fly out to Australia next month ahead of the first Test on 25 November.

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