Pakistan square up amid fresh betting claims

Pakistan’s cricket team prepared to face England in a one-day match on Sunday under the shadow of fresh claims about an alleged betting scam and reports that a fourth player was being investigated.

The News of the World said the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has already charged three Pakistani stars with corruption, was now investigating a fourth player, although the tabloid did not name him “for legal reasons”.

It also claimed Pakistan batsman Yasir Hameed had accused some of his teammates of corruption and suggested the problem of fixing games for cash was widespread in the sport. Hameed denied he had made the remarks.

The ICC refused to comment on the newspaper’s latest claims Sunday, including that the accused trio were facing 23 charges between them and that a fourth unnamed player was under the spotlight.

At the team’s hotel in Cardiff late Saturday, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis also refused to discuss the new revelations.

However, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Giles Clarke, said the first Twenty20 match between England and Pakistan in Cardiff on Sunday would still go ahead. Asked if it would be called off, he said: “No.”

The News of the World on Sunday claimed its allegations had been confirmed by batsman Yasir Hameed.

“They were doing it (fixing) in almost every match. God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages,” Hameed reportedly told an undercover reporter in a bar in the central English city of Nottingham.

“It makes me angry because I’m playing my best and they are trying to lose.”

Speaking to AFP late Saturday, Hameed denied he had spoken to the paper or bad-mouthed other players.

“I can never think of blaming my teammates in match-fixing,” said the batsman, who remains in England after playing in Pakistan’s Test series here, despite not being picked for the one-day matches.

“I have just told the team management that the newspaper is claiming I have given them an interview. This is not correct.”

He admitted attending a couple of parties in Nottingham but denied talking to any unknown people, saying: “There were no strangers.”

Team manager Yawar Saeed confirmed Hameed’s denial but refused to comment further, saying: “Let’s wait and see what happens.”