Pakistan want to focus on cricket

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Shahid Afridi is eager for Pakistan's players to switch their focus to on-field matters as the fallout continues from the spot-fixing allegations that have rocked the team.

The Pakistan one-day captain led the tourists in a training session at the County Ground today ahead of the 50-over warm-up match against Somerset, which precedes two Twenty20s and five ODIs against England.



With the three players at the centre of the allegations - Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer - attending an internal investigation in London, Afridi said the priority now was to keep morale in the camp high amid the negative headlines.



"We have had a very good practice session, the boys have enjoyed it. Myself and the coach are trying to keep the guys' morale high because it's a tough series against a good team, so we should be good and be prepared," Afridi told Sky Sports News.



"They are really focused, what happened is gone now. These boys are here to play some good cricket.



"Playing against England and playing in English conditions is always challenging, and I think we all are very focused and it's very tough.



"We guys are coming from a very serious situation, so maybe in the ground we forget everything and play some good cricket and entertain the people there."



Butt, Asif and Aamer left the Pakistan team's hotel by the front door this morning before getting into a taxi to head to the capital alongside PCB security officer Major Khawaja Najam.



As he made his exit, Butt was asked if he would be coming back. He replied: "Why not?"



The trio are to be interviewed by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt and their country's high commissioner tomorrow morning, and will therefore play no part match against Somerset.



The PCB announced their intention yesterday to hold an internal investigation into newspaper allegations that the three players were involved in a conspiracy to defraud illegal bookmakers.



Croydon-based businessman Mazhar Majeed was arrested in connection with the allegations last weekend and interviewed at Scotland Yard for 24 hours before being released on police bail without charge.



Butt, Asif and Aamer were also interviewed at the team hotel in London on Saturday night after newspaper reports alleged a plot to bowl no-balls to order in the Lord's Test.



Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs reported yesterday that three more arrests, again of people outside the Pakistan squad, had been made.



Amid widespread calls for the three players to somehow be kept out of the scheduled limited-overs matches against England, the International Cricket Council promised "prompt and decisive" action against anyone found guilty of match-fixing.



The PCB responded by announcing their own inquiry - and although its exact timing was initially unclear, it was confirmed this morning that the three players will be interviewed at the Pakistan High Commission tomorrow.



Comments