Pakistan fixing crisis deepens
London - The crisis surrounding Pakistan cricket deepened on Saturday when a team-mate of the three players suspended on corruption charges reportedly claimed that players on his team have been fixing "almost every match."
The News of the World newspaper's Sunday edition quoted opening batsman Yasir Hameed as saying Pakistan players are throwing matches.
"They were doing it in almost every match," Yasir was quoted as saying. "God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages.
"It makes me angry because I'm playing my best and they are trying to lose."
Yasir played in last week's fourth test against England, in which Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are alleged to have deliberately bowled no-balls in conspiracy with bookmakers.
The News of the World also quoted Yasir as saying he been offered up to 150 000 pounds to throw a match. If Yasir did not report the approach, he could be charged by the International Cricket Council under its anti-corruption code.
The ICC suspended Asif, Amir and Test captain Salman Butt this week while it investigates them for various offenses under the sport's anti-corruption code.
The News of the World said the trio face a total of 23 charges from the ICC, and alleged that at least 10 000 pounds of marked bank notes it handed to a middleman in exchange for the no-balls has been recovered from Butt's locker.
The tabloid also claimed that a fourth Pakistan player is being investigated by the ICC, but that he cannot be named for legal reasons.
The ICC said it had no comment on the report.
The lawyers representing the three Pakistan players are unaware of any wish by police to speak to a fourth player.
Yasir was quoted by a private television channel in Pakistan - Dawn News - denying the claims, which the News of the World says he made to an undercover reporter.
"I have not given any interview," Dawn News quoted Yasir as saying. "All the claims of newspapers are false. I can't think of giving any statement like this one. Whatever the newspaper has written, it's their own.
"I have not alleged any Pakistan player of match fixing."
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said the player denied speaking with the paper, which goes on sale the same day as Pakistan's first Twenty20 international against England.
"I have just spoken to Yasir and he did deny it," Saeed said. "I said 'if you have not said these things, why are they saying this?' Again he said 'I have not said it.'
"That's all I can say. Let's wait and see what happens."
England and Wales Cricket board chairperson Giles Clarke said on Saturday the match will go ahead despite the latest allegations.
The ICC is refusing to discuss the case or detail the charges, which followed a sting operation detailed in last week's News of the World that alleged that a middleman accepted payment in exchange for the deliberate no-balls in the match at Lord's - which Pakistan lost by an innings and 225 runs for its worst ever Test defeat.
The ICC has called it the biggest fixing scandal to hit cricket for a decade.
The captain of Pakistan's limited overs teams has apologised to cricket fans for the controversy.
Shahid Afridi said on Saturday that the players in the squad for the remaining two Twenty20 and five one-day matches against England were upset by the allegations.
"On behalf of these boys - I know they're not in this series - I want to say sorry to all cricket lovers and all cricketing nations," Afridi said.
"It's very bad news," Afridi said ahead of Sunday's first Twenty20 in Cardiff. "It's a big challenge for me as captain but we're all ready. The coach and I are not talking about the issue - we are here to play cricket."
Butt, Asif and Amir were released without criminal charge after being questioned by London police on Friday but could be banned from cricket for life if found guilty.
The Pakistan Cricket Board's legal adviser said on Saturday that the trio have denied knowledge of any alleged wrongdoing by the middleman, agent Mazhar Majeed.
"The players have informed the police that the man was their agent, but they had no knowledge," about his alleged wrongdoing, Tafazzul Rizvi told private television channels in Pakistan.
The News of the World has accused Majeed of acting as a middleman, accepting money in exchange for getting Asif and Amir to bowl intentional no-balls.
"I've told the boys, 'don't read the newspapers,"' Afridi said.
The News of the World also claimed in its Sunday edition that it had proof that Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan was mistaken in his assertion that the paper recorded Majeed discussing the timing of the no-balls after they were bowled on August 26.
The newspaper says it has timed evidence from e-mails, text messages, phone records, videos and receipts.
Hasan, Pakistan's top diplomat in Britain, has accused the ICC of bias for banning the players while police are still looking into the case.