Pakistan cricketers in bet scandal innocent: envoy

Three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of illegal betting allegations are innocent, Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain said Thursday after meeting the players.

Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan told a scrum of media that Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif had declared their innocence and vowed to fight the allegations.

“The three players have said that they are extremely disturbed by what has happened in the past week, especially in regard of their alleged involvement in the crime,” Hasan told reporters.

“They mentioned that they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such.”

Hasan said the trio had requested to be withdrawn from Pakistan’s remaining fixtures on their tour of England due to the “mental torture” they had suffered since the scandal broke.

“They maintain that on account of the mental torture which has deeply affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play the remaining matches,” Hasan said. “Therefore, they have requested that the Pakistan Cricket Board not consider them for the remaining matches.”

Asked later if he believed the trio were innocent, Hasan replied: “Yes, I believe in their innocence.”

Butt, Aamer and Asif were all named in a News of the World report which alleged they were involved in a “spot-fixing” scam by bowling deliberate no-balls in last week’s Test match with England in exchange for cash.

The revelations have shocked the cricket world and led to calls from figures within the game that the players involved should be banned for life.