England captain Andrew Strauss insisted his side were still seething at Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt’s claims they’d deliberately lost last week’s third ODI after Pakistan levelled the series at 2-2 with a convincing 38-run success at Lord’s here on Monday.
And he was adamant the statement released by England shortly before the toss at Lord’s in which they said they were contemplating legal action against Butt was no ideal threat.
The fraught atmosphere surrounding this series was heightened yet further by a pre-match confrontation in the Lord’s nets between England’s Jonathan Trott and Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz, although both sides played it down.
Butt, in an interview with the Indian news channel, said on Sunday: “There is loud and clear talk in bookie circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose the (Oval) match.”
Strauss, whose pre-match statement expressed England’s “dismay” at Butt’s allegations, told reporters after stumps at Lord’s: “We were very absolutely outraged by the allegations yesterday (Sunday).
“We refute them completely and we were very disturbed that someone would come out with those allegations without any proof to back them up.”
As for the prospect of legal action, the opening batsman added: “We are going to explore every avenue available to us to make sure our names aren’t sullied in this manner.”
But the opener said the row would not be used as an excuse for England’s latest loss.
“There were obviously a lot of meetings last (Sunday) night. We didn’t have a lot of time to respond to the allegations that surfaced.
“Was it ideal preparation? No, there’s no doubt about that. But I wouldn’t use that as an excuse.”
A drained Strauss added: “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my players for the professional manner they went about their business, and ultimately I’m very proud of them from that point of view.”
Strauss, asked if he’d questioned the England team to find out if there was indeed any substance to Butt’s claims, replied tersely: “I did not need to ask that question.”
England’s pre-match statement said, despite their “misgivings” they’d play at Lord’s and in the final match of the series at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday because they recognised “our responsibilities to the game of cricket”.
Waqar Younis, bowling coach, told reporters “I don’t want to get into what the chairman (Butt) said” and instead praised the way his team had won a “beautiful game of cricket” at Lord’s after their 23-run victory across London at The Oval.
“It’s been tough. We are a very young side and were developing into a good side then this whole (‘spot-fixing’) thing happened. I’m so glad the boys kept their cool today (Monday). I’m really proud of them.”
The fast bowling great added: “I’ve just told them the best answer to all of this is to play to your potential, which they havReuters
“They’ve been accused and it’s bad for the country. They have responded, which is what I wanted.”