Pakistan's earnings will not be held to account

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The Independent Online

Pakistan's cricket officials have abandoned plans to financially vet all players called up for next month's series against England in the United Arab Emirates.

Following the conviction of three Pakistan players last month for their involvement in the spot-fixing scandal, the Pakistan Cricket Board were to ask all players selected for the squad to provide documentary evidence of their finances and any property they may own. It was felt that anyone who suddenly came into money as a result of corruption would be easier to identify.

The PCB have come under increasing pressure from the International Cricket Council to take a tougher stance on corruption. But officials admitted that investigating their players' finances would be unworkable because of a lack of transparency in the way most financial deals are conducted in the country.

Large swathes of the Pakistan economy operate on a cash-only basis, in what is known locally as "black money", making it very difficult to establish a clear paper trail. Property is often purchasedin third-party names, and few Pakistanis pay income tax.

A source close to the PCB said: "It is difficult to establish how much very senior politicians in Pakistan are worth because of the secretive way in which so many financial deals take place, so imagine trying to get to the bottom of what players are really worth.

"It would have been very easy for them to cover up the true state of their finances, as it would be for most Pakistanis. That's just the way things are in this country.

"We are not an investigating agency. Financially vetting all those chosen for the series would have sent out a very strong message that we are serious about tackling corruption but it would have been a futile exercise."

The PCB will increase the amount their players are paid after the England series. Compared to their international counterparts, Pakistani cricketers are poorly paid and this has been identified as one possible reason for spot-fixing.

For next month's series the top-earning Pakistan players will earn a maximum of £28,000, while England's players could earn five times more. But it is paltry central contracts issued by the PCB that are the real cause for concern in the fight against corruption.

A central contract awarded to a grade A player such as Shahid Afridi or Misbah-ul-Haq is worth £22,000 per year, while England's equivalent earn £400,000. The young fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who was convicted of spot-fixing along with former captain Salman Butt and fellow paceman Mohammad Asif, was on a central contract of just £1,000 per month.

What irks the Pakistani players even more is that cricketers from their arch rivals India can easily earn in excess of £1m per year just from match fees and central contracts, let alone lucrative sponsorship deals.

The PCB will consider paying a percentage of their annual income to players, as happens in India, Australia and South Africa. A PCB source said: "While our players are paid well by Pakistani standards, that is obviously not the case when you compare them to players around the world. We are determined to stamp out corruption and clearly, the issue of salaries has to be examined."