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More controversy for Pak: ECB demands apology from PCB chief

Last updated on: September 21, 2010 20:14 IST

'Feelings have been high in the last 24 hours'



Pakistan's chaotic tour of England degenerated into near anarchy on the morning of the fourth One-Day International at Lord's on Monday, a match the visitors went on to win by 38 runs.

The day began with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) threatening legal action against Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt following provocative comments about Friday's third match at the Oval which the tourists won by 23 runs.

England captain Andrew Strauss said his team had "strong misgivings" about taking the field after Butt told a television channel there had been "loud and clear talk in bookies' circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose (Friday's) match".

Match referee Jeff Crowe was then forced to intervene after a dispute in the nets between England batsman Jonathan Trott and Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz.

ECB chief executive David Collier said former New Zealand captain Crowe had dealt immediately with the incident which was now closed.

"I think feelings have been high in the last 24 hours. We don't hide behind that though. We admit feelings were strong so that is bound to spill over," Collier said.

Image: Jeff Crowe
Photographs: Reuters

'We're looking for an apology'

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Then, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has demanded an apology from the PCB chairman Ejaz Butt for accusing the English players of throwing the third One-Dayer at the Oval.

The ECB has also threatened to take legal action against the PCB chief unless he issued an apology for his comments.

"We're looking for an apology. If it doesn't come we'll look at other options," said ECB CEO David Collier.

"Clearly we'll seek advice but there are quite strong laws of defamation. You can't impugn someone's integrity without having proper evidence. To date I can say that we've received zero evidence of anything having influenced any England player," he added.

Butt had told an Indian news channel that he had heard from bookmakers that England players had taken bribes to lose last Friday's Oval ODI.

The ECB had earlier termed Butt's remarks against the England cricket team as "wholly irresponsible and completely without foundation".

Image: Ejaz Butt

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'The Eng players fully understand their responsibilities'

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"The team deplores and rejects unreservedly the suggestion that any England cricketers were involved in manipulating the outcome, or any individual element, of the third NatWest Series ODI at the Brit Insurance Oval between England and Pakistan last week," read the statement which was issued on behalf of the England team.

"The players fully understand their responsibilities as representatives of their country, and would not countenance giving less than 100 percent in any match they play," it further added.

The statement was issued after a lengthy meeting between the ECB and the England team.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke, Collier, managing director of England Cricket Hugh Morris, England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andrew Flower were present during the meeting. A subsequent meeting was then held with the entire England team.

Image: England's Kevin Pietersen (left), author Jeffrey Archer (with glasses) and TV personality Piers Morgan (right) at the fourth ODI between England and Pakistan at Lord's on Monday

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'We refute these allegations'

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However, the ECB and the England team added that they are committed to continuing with the current NatWest Series against Pakistan.

"It remains in the best interests of world cricket, the players and in particular of cricket supporters that the tour should continue and it would set a dangerous precedent to call off a tour based on the misguided and inaccurate remarks made by one individual."

The ECB, meanwhile, continued to offer the International Cricket Council (ICC) full support in taking the strongest possible action against all areas of corruption and pledged to offer the ACSU its full support at all times.

Expressing surprise at at Butt's remarks, Strauss said, "We would like to express our surprise, dismay and outrage at the comments made by Mr Butt. We are deeply concerned and disappointed that our integrity as cricketers has been brought into question.

"We refute these allegations completely and will be working closely with the ECB to explore all legal options open to us."

Image: Andrew Strauss

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'It's ridiculous what he has said'

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"Under the circumstances, we have strong misgivings about continuing to play the last two games of the current series and urge the Pakistani team and management to distance themselves from Butt's allegations," the England skipper added.

"We do, however, recognise our responsibilities to the game of cricket, and in particular to the cricket-loving public in this country, and will therefore endeavour to fulfill these fixtures to the best of our ability."

Two former PCB chiefs said Butt's comments were ill-advised.

"It's ridiculous what he has said. If he had any proof or information about English players he should have gone with it to the ICC or Scotland Yard which is already investigating allegations against our players," Khalid Mehmood told Reuters.

Shaharyar Khan told Reuters that Butt's statement would only isolate Pakistan further.

"If we had any information about English players we should have spoken to the ECB about it instead of going public," he said.

Image: Shaharyar Khan

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