Strauss still open to legal action against Butt

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss was making no idle threat when he mentioned the possibility of legal action against Ijaz Butt over the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman's accusations of match-fixing by England.

Butt astounded millions when he claimed on Sunday that England players might have deliberately lost the third NatWest Series match at the Brit Oval on purpose in return for "enormous amounts of money".

After England had also lost the fourth match last night by 38 runs at Lord's as Pakistan levelled the series at 2-2 with only tomorrow's final match to play at the Rose Bowl, Strauss was asked if legal recourse was still on his mind.

"Absolutely, we are going to explore every avenue available to us to make sure our names aren't sullied in this manner," he said.

Strauss said he did not feel the need to ask any of his players to confirm what he already knew, namely that there was no substance to Butt's remarks.

He added, however, that he had no choice but to respond to claims which came from such high office.

"It was the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board coming out with these allegations and we as a group of players felt strongly that we should respond, given that they were directed to us," Strauss said.

That said, Strauss was heartened that - after an ominous pre-match bust-up between England's Jonathan Trott and Pakistan's Wahab Riaz - the match was played in good spirit.

"I think both sides understood their responsibilities to put on a good, clean game of cricket," he said.

"Any potential area where things might have developed, we were all very keen to calm things down very quickly.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to the players from both sides for doing that.

"It's just a fact of life, with a lot of emotion flying around things can get out of hand and I'm very proud of the fact that didn't happen."

Strauss' team did not need to be reminded that they must be on their best behaviour.

"I think we were all clear it was very important for cricket that this game went ahead in the right spirit," he said.

"Both sides would say it was a difficult thing to do, but I think that's what transpired.

"We were very absolutely outraged by the allegations. We refute them completely and we were very disturbed that someone would come out with those allegations without any proof to back them up."

Strauss hopes that the Rose Bowl finale will be less arduous for all.

"This is going to be harder than Wednesday's game, because it was so new and raw and there was a lot of emotion around," he said.

"I think, and hope, things will calm down to a certain extent before the next game."

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis has repeatedly had to try to galvanise his team in the face of spot-fixing allegations over the past three weeks.

This time, it was the opposition who had that task but Waqar wanted to concentrate on Pakistan's fightback in the series.

"It's good that we concentrate on the game and I think it was a beautiful game of cricket," he said.

"I'm so pleased the boys kept their cool. I'm really proud of them.

"I've just told them the best answer to all of this is to play to your potential, which they have done."