Fourth Pakistani bowler to be questioned by police

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The Independent Online

The Pakistan Cricket Board revealed today that fast bowler Wahab Riaz is to be questioned by police on September 14, the fourth Pakistan player to appear before Scotland Yard in relation to match-fixing allegations.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt told reporters in Lahore: "They want to question Wahab Riaz and we have set the date for it."

Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were questioned by Scotland Yard for nine hours last month after the News of the World alleged that the trio had accepted money in return for ensuring three deliberate no-balls were bowled during the Lord's test against England.

They have been provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council, and given 14 days to respond to the charges against them.

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed, who is preparing his team for the one-day series against England, was unaware of Riaz's appointment with Scotland Yard.

"I have not heard anything about that. I am sure they (the PCB) will tell me if this is true," Saeed said today.

Pakistan face England in the first of five one-day matches in Durham next Friday, and Saeed said Riaz would still be considered for selection unless he is told otherwise.

"I've not been told anything. Let's wait," he said. "It's been a hard time. But we will do our best and continue to do our best."

Butt said that police were yet to share any "incriminating material with the PCB" regarding their investigation.

"They have not charged any of our players and I would like the suspended players to travel back to Pakistan within the next few days," Butt said.

The PCB chairman admitted that during the police search of players' rooms in the aftermath of the newspaper allegations, £2,500 were found in Salman Butt's room and £1,500 in Amir's.

But he claimed that Salman Butt was paid the money by his agent as an advance for making an appearance at the opening of an ice cream parlor in England.

"The deal was of £5,000 and Salman got half of the amount as an advance," Butt said.

Butt said that Amir had already declared that he had £1,500 in his possession, but did not elaborate on where the money came from.

Butt, who confirmed that captain Salman Butt and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal have been questioned by the ICC before, was critical of the ICC's anti-corruption unit for starting its own inquiry before the police had finished their investigation.

"Scotland Yard had written to the ICC to say that there can't be a parallel investigation and you should not do this," Butt said.

Since the News of the World's revelations, Pakistan has struggled on the pitch and on Tuesday lost heavily to England in the second of the two-match Twenty 20 series after being bowled out for a meagre 89.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said it had been difficult for the players to maintain their focus.

"We are not really talking about these things, " Waqar said on Thursday. "That is the best way to go about it. If you keep talking about these things your focus goes off track, which we have been in the last week.

"We are trying to talk it out and make sure we keep our focus to the cricket rather than thinking of anything else. It has been tough for the last 10 days more than that because of what's happening at home and the floods. It's been really tough, and it's been a long tour also."

Meanwhile, the PCB is asking all player agents to get clearance from the cricket board before Sept. 30.

"No Pakistani cricketer who is selected for any squad for local and international teams will be allowed to engage any agent/manager without the prior written approval of the PCB," the cricket board said in a statement.

"Failure to comply ... will result in the player being declared ineligible for selection in any of the domestic or international cricketing events under the control of the PCB."

The agents should clearly identify which player they wish to work with and should also provide background data and terms of contract with players to the PCB.

"In case the player's agent is not a Pakistan national, the PCB will ask the relevant high commissioner/ambassador of Pakistan to which the agent belongs for their checking and approval.

"In case of agent/manager based in Pakistan local law enforcement authority will provide clearance of said the agent/manager."