Leading article: A sad spectacle

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The England and Wales Cricket Board has ruled that the last two matches of the one-day series – today and on Wednesday – will go ahead as planned, despite the cloud hanging over Friday's match at the Oval, which Pakistan won by 23 runs. One of the reasons it gave was that the claims about match-fixing do not relate to any England players – public confirmation of what everyone suspected, but no one wanted to say out loud. Thus was destroyed at a stroke the attempted even-handedness in which the initial suspicions were couched by the International Cricket Council.

In deciding whether to complete the series, there are many interests to be considered, not least those of the ECB and the sponsors, NatWest. The players, of course, have an interest, too, and their preference is to play; as with sportspeople generally, their priority is the game. But spectators and cricket-lovers everywhere also have an interest – in open matches fairly played. And it is hard to see how this is served if the new suspicions cannot be immediately allayed.

This is a sadly compromised series that should have been put out of its misery after stumps were drawn at the last Test match. All that the ECB has done is to prolong the agony.

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