Pakistan to assess bribe allegations : CRICKET

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CRICKET

BY HUGH BATESON

Pakistan's cricket authorities will be given details of bribery allegations made by Australian players at a meeting with the game's ruling body, the International Cricket Council, in London next week.

The latest moves follow allegations in the Australian press that Salim Malik, the team's captain, tried to bribe both Shane Warne and Tim May before the first Test in Karachi on their tour late last year. Salim has emphatically denied the charges, and is apparently considering legal action against the newspaper which printed the story.

"I am very upset and I strongly deny it," he said during the Test match against Zimbabwe in Harare yesterday. "These are false accusations and there is no truth in them. Do you think in 13 years of my career I can do such a stupid thing? It's all false accusations. I don't believe it and I don't think you should believe it."

Salim was named in the Melbourne Age, which claimed that Warne and May had cited him in reports on the bribery allegations they have submitted to the Australian Cricket Board. The reports have been passed on to the ICC, whose chief executive, David Richards, will hand them on to Javed Burki, the chairman of the committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan.

The Age said the players' reports claimed that Salim, 31, who is currently playing in his 83rd Test match, had offered them A$70,000 (£33,000) each to influence the result of the match. The game, regarded as one of the all-time great Tests, ended with Pakistan snatching a one-wicket win after a last-wicket partnership of 57 runs.

Salim said that a fax from the Australian Board to the BCCP about the issue had not named him. "We got a fax from the Australian Cricket Board and officially they said nothing about this. It is one of the newspapers which is writing this. Officially there is no truth," he said.

He also denied having spoken to May or Warne during the tour. "I never spoke to anyone about this. I might say hello to them in the ground, but otherwise I never socialise with anybody. I am a quiet person, everyone knows that."

The Age also claimed that Mark Waugh had been offered A$134,000 (£60,000) in a 2am phone call to his hotel room to get out in the same Test. It did not name the alleged caller.

The Australian Board confirmed that it had received reports from the players, but gave no details of their contents. "It's now in the hands of the ICC," the Board's chief executive, Graham Halbish, said.

Richards said in a statement yesterday: "I have been informed that there will be statements made by some members of the Australian party that toured Pakistan in 1994. When the material arrives it will be given to Javed Burki. Mr Burki will be visiting London early next week but no meeting time or place has yet been set. The ICC will not comment, on legal advice, on the identity of any person referred to in the statements."

According to Zafer Altaf, another member of the sport's ruling committee in Pakistan, the allegations are likely to prompt an inquiry there as soon as the team returns from its tour to Zimbabwe. "There is a lot more investigation to be done and we must have a thorough probe as soon as the team comes back," he said. "Obviously we want to bring about decency and cleanliness in cricket. Money should not be the be-all and end-all. I want our players to be comfortable, but not greedy."

The latest revelations bring to four the number of recent alleged bribery incidents. The former Australian batsman Dean Jones claimed he was offered a "cake-tin" containing £33,000 by an Indian bookmaker to provide inside information during a tour to Sri Lanka in 1992.

And Allan Border, the former captain, claimed he was offered £500,000 by a former Pakistan Test player to lose the 1993 Test against England at Edgbaston. Mushtaq Mohammed, a former Pakistan Test batsman, has dismissed that charge as resulting from a misunderstanding of a casual conversation he had with Border during the game.

Salim claimed the rash of allegations could have an ulterior motive. "It must be someone who is behind this and I don't know who is doing it. Maybe for the last year the team has done so well. If you look at the graph for Tests and one-days we are on top. I can only think that someone wants to put the team under pressure."

Pakistan have played 30 one-day internationals in the past year, winning 20 and losing nine. They have also played 11 Tests, of which they have won six and lost three.

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