England continues Pakistan series amid new claims

Angry England captain Andrew Strauss vowed to “explore every possible avenue” to defend his team against allegations of fixing made by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt as tensions between the two countries reached crisis point.

Butt accused Strauss’ players of throwing Friday’s match at The Oval, which Pakistan won by 23 runs for its first victory since the ICC suspended three team members for alleged spot-fixing in the fourth test against England in August.

Butt made his allegation after the International Cricket Council opened another investigation into alleged Pakistani fixing on the tour, following claims that the scoring pattern in Pakistan’s innings on Friday was prearranged.

The ICC received information from a British tabloid ahead of the one-day match that cricket’s governing body said “appeared to be correct.”

While Butt is threatening legal action against those behind what he claims is a “sinister conspiracy” against Pakistan cricket, Strauss was also adamant that action must be taken against those trying to tarnish the England team’s integrity.

“We were absolutely outraged by the allegations that surfaced yesterday,” an emotional Strauss said after his lineup lost to Pakistan by 38 runs at Lord’s on Monday.

“We refute them completely and we were very disturbed that someone would come out with those allegations without any proof.

“We are going to explore every possible avenue available to us to make sure our names aren’t sullied in this manner.”

Strauss appeared to be emotionally drained as he addressed the media at the end of another scandal-filled day in Pakistan’s tour.

The deterioration of relations between the two teams, already at a low ebb after the spot fixing scandal in the test match, sank to new depths following Butt’s claims, which were dismissed by the England and Wales Cricket Board as “wholly irresponsible and completely without foundation.”

One option was to pull out of the limited-overs series in protest, but Strauss said the team felt it had a duty to play “for the game of cricket.”

“When the allegations first surfaced, there was a lot of raw emotion around and we needed to let that subside. But we didn’t have a lot of time to do that,” Strauss said.