Nottingham Test could have been fixed
The match-fixing scandal that has rocked Pakistan cricket grew in proportion on Monday with reports emerging of more games being rigged prompting a shocked cricketing fraternity to demand life bans on guilty players.
The sting operation carried out by British tabloid The News of the World, which implicated seven Pakistani players including captain Salman Butt, has opened a Pandora's box with fresh reports suggesting that the opening Test between England and Pakistan and the January Sydney Test between Pakistan and Australia could have been fixed.
A guarded International Cricket Council President Sharad Pawar said the allegations were very serious but the ICC would wait for a report from the police in London before deciding on its course of action.
"Until and unless the process of investigation is over, it is improper for me to react," Pawar said in Mumbai.
"We have discussed it within the ICC and have decided that let us wait for the police's investigation report. After that we have to take a viewpoint of the two Boards, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board.
"If this is established, there will be quite a serious view that will be taken by the Pakistan Cricket Board, the England Cricket Board and the ICC," he said.
The furore follows allegations that a bookie, Mazhar Majeed, arrested and later released on bail, bribed Pakistani pacers Mohammad Asif and Muhammad Aamir for 'spot-fixing' to bowl no balls during the Lord's Test against England, which the visitors lost by an innings and 225 runs.
Image: Pakistan cricketers Mohd Aamir (left) and Mohd Asif arrive at the team hotel after their team's defeat against England on Sunday
Bookie Majeeb claims Sydney Test was fixed
While match-fixing involves rigging the outcome of a game, 'spot-fixing' means manipulating events within a match.
Skeletons continued to tumble out in the saga with reports saying that the first Test between England and Pakistan in the just-ended series and Pakistan and Australia in Sydney in January were also fixed.
Another report claimed that the Pakistani players were found with cash exceeding their daily allowances during a Scotland Yard raid on Saturday night.
In a video of the sting operation, Majeed is seen claiming that the result of the Sydney Test was rigged and is also boasting about the money he earned from it.
"Let me tell you the last Test we did. It was the second Test against Australia in Sydney. Australia had two more wickets left. They had a lead of 10 runs, yeah. And Pakistan had all their wickets remaining.
"The odds for Pakistan to lose that match, for Australia to win that match, were I think 40-1. We let them get up to 150 then everyone lost their wickets," newspapers in London quoted Majeed as saying in the sting video.
"That one we made 1.3 million pounds. But that's what I mean, you can get up to a million. Tests are where the biggest money is because those situations arise."
Australia clinched an unlikely 36-run win in the match after Pakistan lost nine wickets for a mere 89 runs. Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal dropped four catches in the match which helped Australia recover from a potentially losing situation.
The ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit had investigated the match but gave it an all-clear.
Image: Pakistan's Manager Yawar Saeed (right) and assistant manager Shafqat Ranan (centre) read the News of the World newspaper as Kamran Akmal looks on
Scotland Yard was tipped off over corruption in 1st Eng Test
Compounding the Pakistan cricket team's woes was a report in a British paper which claimed that the side's players rigged the opening Test against England, which the hosts won by a massive 354 runs last month in Nottingham.
Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick was reportedly told about Pakistani players being involved in match-fixing a month ago.
"... police were told a month ago about match-fixing in the England v Pakistan Test series. Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick was tipped off over alleged corruption in the first match (July 29 to August 1)," the tabloid claimed.
Quoting a source, the newspaper said that an informer had given "credible" information about match-fixing by Pakistani players to the police in London.
The new revelations are bound to damage the Pakistan cricket team's reputation even more.
The cricketers implicated in the scandal have had their mobile phones and reportedly their passports confiscated by the police.
Image: Former South African captain, the late Hansie Cronje had accepted before the Judge Edwin King Commission in 2000 that he had fixed matches
'All individual milestones from the Sydney Test will be tainted'
But the storm has failed to force a resignation from Butt, who has reacted by saying that, "I haven't heard any allegations, except just taking my name. There's nothing I've seen or been shown on TV that involves me."
But rattled by the bookie's claim about the Sydney Test, Cricket Australia said the allegations are "most disturbing" and called for a thorough investigation into the scandal.
"The reports from the UK are most disturbing and we look forward to the outcome of rigorous investigation by the UK authorities as well as by the ICC," CA chief James Sutherland said.
"It is critical for cricket that the public has confidence in the integrity of the outcome of games, which is why CA and other ICC members have supported the significant world cricket investment in anti corruption over the last decade or more," Sutherland added.
Equally disturbed by the turn of events was Australian captain Ricky Ponting, who said if the match-fixing slur is proved right, all individual milestones by his players in the Sydney game would be "tainted".
"The thing that I'm most worried about if any of this is proven to be true is some of the individual performances that took place in that game," he said.
"All of those individual milestones will be tainted as well," he added.
Image: Ricky Ponting
British media calls for life bans on guilty players
The BCCI, arguably the most financially powerful member of the ICC, said the matter is for the ICC and the PCB to deal with.
"The PCB and ICC should look into this matter and they are capable of handling it," BCCI spokesman Rajiv Shukla said.
Former captains reacted with shock and anger at the scandal.
Former players such as Ian Chappell, Ramiz Raja, Michael Vaughan, Imran Khan and Ian Botham condemned the scandal and said they were worried about the future of cricket.
The scandal drew sharp reactions from the British media which said it threatens the very existence of the sport and called for Pakistan's suspension from international cricket and life bans on the players if found guilty.
Image: Pakistan's Mohammad Amir (right) receives his man of the series award from Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, on Sunday