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Pakistan sends team to investigate cricket scam claims

30 August 10 15:30
(L-R) Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif

Investigators from Pakistan are flying to London to examine allegations that some of its cricketers were involved in a betting scam.

The Federal Investigation Agency team will study claims that two players deliberately bowled no-balls during the final test against England at Lord's.

Former International Cricket Council chief Malcolm Speed says there was a "fairly compelling case" for Pakistan's suspension from world cricket.

Police have questioned four players.

The three members of the team from the FIA - Pakistan's highest law enforcement agency - will join Scotland Yard officers in investigating claims by The News of the World that it paid cricket agent Mazhar Majeed £150,000 to provide advance details of when three no-balls would be bowled.

The paper alleges gamblers could make a fortune out of betting on such an outcome.

Mr Majeed, 35, has been released on police bail after being arrested on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.

'Ruthless actions'

Four members of the Pakistan team - bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, along with their captain Salman Butt and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal - have all been quizzed by Scotland Yard officers. There are also reports that mobile phones from three of the players have been taken away for examination.

The team will now head to Taunton for a one-day warm-up match against Somerset on Thursday, before the start of the limited overs series against England.

Somerset County Cricket Club said the Taunton fixture would definitely go ahead.

Somerset's chief executive Richard Gould said: "I think we need to try and keep the cricket going and let the politics and disciplinary issues sort themselves out through the authorities that already exist."

BBC News correspondent Greg Wood says there are suggestions that the England team would "find it difficult" to face a Pakistan side which included the four players at the centre of the allegations.

Despite growing pressure, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has ruled out calls for action to be taken against the players until after the police investigation.

But ICC president Sharad Pawar warned: "If, unfortunately, there is a truth (in the allegations) then ruthless actions will be taken."

Appointed captain

Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed insisted cricket was not "institutionally corrupt" in his country, and said the claims were unproven.

A joint statement issued by the ICC, the England and Wales Cricket Board and Pakistan Cricket Board stressed that no player nor team official had been arrested.

Mr Amir bowled two of the three no-balls which led to the investigation - one on Thursday and one on Friday.

The 18-year-old became the youngest bowler in Test history to take 50 wickets during day two of the second Test at Lord's.

His teammate, Mr Asif, bowled one of the three no-balls in question on Thursday, the first day of the Test at Lord's. The 27-year-old made his Test debut in 2005 and is currently ranked third in the ICC bowling rankings.

Mr Butt was appointed Pakistan's Test captain in July. He made his debut back in 2003 but was in and out of the side for several years until securing a regular place in 2007.

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