| If proven guilty of match-fixing, the trio face serious penalties of up to a life ban from the sport [Gallo/Getty]
Three Pakistani players have been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) under its anti-corruption code in the wake of the match-fixing scandal that has stunned the cricketing world.
The ICC said in a statement on Thursday that Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were notified of the charges, which were unspecified but relate to "alleged irregular behaviour" during the fourth test against England last week.
The players "have been officially notified of the offences they are alleged to have committed and have been provisionally suspended pending a decision on those charges", the statement read.
The players have been provisionally barred from all forms of cricket pending a resolution of the charges.
Details of the hearing are to be finalised.
"We will not tolerate corruption in cricket - simple as that," Haroon Lorgat, ICC chief executive, said.
"We must be decisive with such matters and, if proven, these offences carry serious penalties up to a life ban.
"The ICC will do everything possible to keep such conduct out of the game, and we will stop at nothing to protect the sport's integrity. While we believe the problem is not widespread, we must always be vigilant."
Butt and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were also implicated in the story.
British newspaper News of the World alleged that Amir and Asif were paid to deliberately bowl no-balls in the opening day of the fourth test against England at Lord's last week.
|Amir's career could be over at the age of 18 if the allegations are proved true [AFP]
Asif, Amir and Butt had their mobile phones confiscated by police, who also searched hotel rooms and questioned players on Saturday as part of an investigation also involving the International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.
Earlier on Thursday, the three players protested their innocence after meeting Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan, who said the trio had been put through "mental torture'' and would step down for the rest of the England tour.
"The three players have said they are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week, specially with regard to their alleged involvement in the scam", Hasan said in a statement on behalf of the players.
"They mention that they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such.
"They further maintain that on account of the mental torture, which has deeply affected them all, they are not in the right frame of mind to play the remaining matches."