‘Spot-fixing’ trio suspended by ICC?despite set-up claims

THE three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of the ‘spot-fixing’ allegations were last night charged with various offences by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were provisionally suspended from playing following “alleged irregular behaviour” during the fourth Test at Lord’s last week.

“We will not tolerate corruption in cricket ?– simple as that,” said ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

“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 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. It is important, however, that we do not pre-judge the guilt of these three players. That is for the independent tribunal alone to decide.”

Ironically, the charges came after the Pakistan’s high commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan, inset, claimed the players had been framed by the News of the World after emerging from a Pakistan Cricket Board inquiry in London. He claimed the video allegedly exposing the “no-ball” scandal was taken after the incident.

Asked if the trio had been set up by the paper, Hasan replied: “Yes”. He added: “You [the media] are jumping to conclusions, because no-balls are not taped like that.

“We have not seen videos – what the time was, what the date [was]... whether they were taken before or after the match. Do you have answers to the questions?”

The News of the World said it “refuses to respond to such ludicrous allegations”.

Earlier, all three players announced they had opted to sit out of the forthcoming limited-over series with England, starting with the Twenty20 opener on Sunday, while they set out to clear their name.

Hasan added: “On account of the mental torture which has deeply affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play the remaining matches.”