Pakistan hope to repair ties

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt withdraws comments about England as cricket community hopes to put dispute behind them.

    Butt withdrew his comments following a meeting with his English counterpart, Giles Clarke [AFP]

    Pakistan's cricket community are hopeful that relations with England can be repaired after national chairman Ijaz Butt withdrew match-fixing allegations.

    The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman had claimed England players were paid "enormous amounts of money" to lose The Oval one-day match in a series the hosts ultimately won 3-2 this month.

    The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) threatened legal action in response unless Butt "unreservedly" apologised for remarks that he said at the time were merely repeating something he'd heard from bookmakers.

    The apology came on Wednesday after Butt met ECB chairman Giles Clarke.

    "I would like to make it quite clear that in the statements which I made that I never intended to question the behaviour and integrity of the England players nor the ECB nor to suggest that any of them were involved in any corrupt practices or in a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket," he said.

    Former Pakistani captain Zaheer Abbas told the AFP news agency on Thursday that everyone at home would "appreciate the withdrawal".

    "I hope the latest development will minimise the damage done to the relationship of both the countries," he said.

    Security concerns

    Abbas also hoped the ECB would continue to help Pakistan host international cricket, given security concerns that have prevented play at home since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009.

    "Pakistan's name in the cricket world was not stained as much in history as in this set-up of the PCB, and after this England episode our heads are bowed in shame"

    Salahuddin Ahmed, former Pakistan selector

    But he said Butt's credibility had been compromised.

    "I think his image is gone and he should have thought before levelling those serious allegations. After all Butt is holding a senior and important position in a country's cricket board," said Abbas.

    Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed accused Butt of degrading Pakistani cricket.

    "He shouldn't have said this in the first place and those allegations put him in a shameful position," said Ahmed.

    "He has taken another U-turn after taking so many of his decisions and statements back during his tenure."

    Previous about-turns have included rescinding bans and fines against several players in March this year imposed following a disastrous tour of Australia.

    All but one of seven players banned and fined for disciplinary violations have had their bans overturned and fines halved.

    Ahmed said Butt's tenure had tarnished Pakistan's image.

    "Pakistan's name in the cricket world was not stained as much in history as in this set-up of the PCB, and after this England episode our heads are bowed in shame," said Ahmed.

    Pakistan's latest tour of England was marred by spot-fixing scandals.

    Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after they were accused of taking money from a bookmaker to deliberately bowl no-balls in last month's Lord's Test.

    The ICC then launched a separate inquiry into the Oval one-day after a tip-off from British newspaper The Sun, which claimed Pakistan's scoring pattern in the match was pre-arranged with bookies.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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