The British newspaper whose allegations of a betting scam have rocked the world of cricket said Saturday that a fourth Pakistan player was being probed over the claims, but declined to name him.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and Pakistan’s coach refused to comment on the report in the News of the World, and officials stressed Sunday’s Twenty20 match between England and Pakistan in Cardiff would still go ahead.
The newspaper’s report last Sunday into an alleged fixing scam caused a major scandal and prompted the ICC to charge Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif under its anti-corruption code.
In its latest edition due out on Sunday, the paper claimed the suspended trio were facing 23 charges between them — and revealed that the ICC was now probing a fourth player, although it did not name him “for legal reasons”.
It also quoted Pakistan batsman Yasir Hameed as saying that some players were fixing in “almost every match”. Hameed later denied he made the remarks.
At the team’s hotel in Cardiff, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis refused to discuss the new revelations.
A spokesman for the ICC also told AFP: “We do not comment on ongoing investigations and nor will we comment about the details of the charges.”
However, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, said Sunday’s game would go ahead. Asked if the revelations would stop the one-day match from taking place, he replied: “No.”
The allegations all relate to the recent fourth and final Test between England and Pakistan at Lord’s, which ended with an England victory, in which the News of the World said deliberate no-balls had been bowled.
Aamer, at 18 one of cricket’s hottest talents, Asif, 27, and Butt, 25, were questioned by police about the claims on Friday but were released without charge, their lawyer said. They have denied any wrongdoing.
The News of The World said Saturday it would be publishing further details of its investigations to back up its claims, and quoted Hameed as saying that some in the Pakistan team were fixing “almost every match”.
“They’ve been caught. Only the ones that get caught are branded crooks. They were doing it (fixing) in almost every match. God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages,” the batsman was quoted as saying.
“It makes me angry because I am playing my best and they are trying to lose.”
However, Hameed told AFP that he had not spoken to the News of the World and denied accusing his fellow players of corruption.
“I can never think of blaming my teammates in match-fixing,” said the batsman, who played in theTest series against England but was not included in the one-day squad.
“I have just told the team management that the newspaper is claiming I have given them an interview. This is not correct.”
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed confirmed Hameed’s denial but refused to comment further, saying: “Let’s wait and see what happens.”
Earlier, Pakistan one-day captain Shahid Afridi apologised for the scandal, telling reporters: “I think this is very bad news.
“On behalf of these boys — I know they are not in this series — I want to say sorry to all cricket lovers and all the cricketing nations.”
The News of the World last week alleged that it paid Mazhar Majeed, an agent for several Pakistan players, 150,000 pounds in return for advance knowledge of no-balls, which could then be bet upon.
The 35-year-old was arrested and bailed by British police.
In its latest edition, the tabloid claimed investigators had found between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds worth of its marked bills in Butt’s hotel room.
The ICC action against the three players has infuriated the Pakistani authorities, in particular ambassador to Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who said the ICC had “no business” to suspend the trio and suggested they were set up.
England Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood said: “I just want this (fixing) eradicated from the game, full stop.”