Pakistan stars await probe on betting scam claims

Three Pakistan players embroiled in betting scam allegations were preparing on Wednesday to face questioning which is almost certain to sideline them from the team’s tour of England.

Test Captain Salman Butt plus bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif look set to miss match with county side Somerset in Taunton on Thursday, a warm-up match before their limited overs internationals against England.

They were due to face questions from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner (ambassador) to Britain, in London Wednesday but the meeting has now been put back 24 hours.

It appears increasingly likely that they will play no further part in the tour amid mounting calls for the trio to be barred from appearing while the probe into the allegations is ongoing.

Following the Somerset warm-up, Pakistan play two Twenty20 matches against England in Cardiff on Sunday and Tuesday, then five one-day internationals.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has promised “prompt and decisive action” if the “spot-fixing” allegations linked to betting rings made by Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper are proven.

Its chief executive Haroon Lorgat hopes there will be “some sort of conclusion” to the probe within the next few days.

England’s players meanwhile are reportedly reluctant to line up against a Pakistan team containing the tainted trio, according to Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive Angus Porter.

“The England players understand it is important the games go ahead and they will be professional but they would or will find it really difficult to play against the guys directly implicated,” Porter said.

“Our strong feeling is a way needs to be found to ensure that they are either suspended or, if that is not possible, some other solution is found so that they do not play,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

Customs officials in Britain meanwhile said they had arrested and bailed two men and a woman “as part of an ongoing investigation into money laundering”. A source confirmed the arrests were linked to the cricket scandal.