Sarfraz requests inquiry

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The Independent Online

Sarfraz Nawaz, the former Pakistan and Northamptonshire opening bowler, has asked a government committee to launch an investigation into corruption in Pakistani cricket, which he says is widespread.

Speaking in his capacity as special adviser to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Sarfraz said: "Even local matches are fixed in Pakistan. Betting is very high. It goes into the millions of rupees."

His comments follow allegations that the Australian spin bowlers, Shane Warne and Tim May, were offered bribes to throw matches on the tour of Pakistan last October and November.

Sarfraz added that a domestic investigation into local cricket should be welcomed. "I think in the end this [controversy] will be good for our cricket because the culprits should be revealed," he said.

Javed Burki, chairman of the ad hoc committee of the Board of Control of Cricket in Pakistan, has said that he wants Pakistan's name cleared of the bribery allegations. "I do not believe any member of the Pakistan side is involved with all these allegations," he said.

There are concerns that the allegations could jeopardise Pakistan's co- hosting, with India and Sri Lanka, of next year's World Cup. But Sarfraz said it was a price Pakistan would willingly pay to rid its team of corruption.

"Even if it means we lose the World Cup, things have to be settled," he said. "Gambling has to be stopped. It's a bad thing for the nation as well."

Pakistan's captain, Salim Malik, who has vehemently denied all bribery allegations, was fined 50 per cent of his match fee (£100) yesterday for suggesting that umpire Ian Robinson had interfered with the ball during the second day's play in the third Test against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Salim was also given a two-Test suspended sentence, while Pakistan's opening batsman Aamir Sohail was given a severe reprimand for the same offence, but escaped a fine.

A statement released by the match referee, Jackie Hendriks, and the Zimbabwe Cricket Union chief executive, Don Arnott, said that the umpires - Robinson, of Zimbabwe, and the Australian Steve Randell - had reported the players after they had suggested that Robinson "had wet one side of the ball, currently in use, or interfered with it in some way".