Strauss left in outrage at fixing claims

England captain hits back at Pakistan chief Butt over Oval accusations

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss yesterday lashed out at suggestions his side deliberately set out to lose last Friday’s one-dayer with Pakistan.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt caused fury among the England dressing room after telling an Indian TV station he had heard that some England players had “taken enormous amounts of money” to fix the outcome of the match at The Oval. “We have positive proofs here before us,” he said.

Butt’s comments led to Strauss admitting he had mixed feelings about continuing to play the last two games of the series – the first of which they went on to lose last night – as he issued a robust defence of his side.

“We refute these allegations and will explore all legal options open to us,” Strauss said in a statement through the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“We are disappointed that our integrity has been brought into question. Under the circumstances, we have strong misgivings about continuing to play the last two games of the current series and urge the Pakistani team and management to distance themselves from Mr Butt’s allegations.

“We do, however, recognise our responsibilities to the game of cricket – and in particular to the cricket-loving public in this country – and will therefore endeavour to fulfil these fixtures to the best of our ability.”

The International Cricket Council has vowed to investigate “scoring patterns” – alleged to involve Pakistan, not England – during Thursday’s one-dayer, which the tourists won by 23 runs to pull the series back to 2-1.

Butt responded to the ICC’s intervention by claiming there was a “conspiracy to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket”.

Indeed, yesterday, he told India’s NDTV channel: “There is loud and clear talk in bookie circles that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose. No wonder there was total collapse of the English side.”

Later, however, he backtracked by saying he was only reporting what he had heard and said he had no proof that England’s players had thrown the game. “The bookies have been talking about it and we will investigate the matter and come up with whatever proof we can provide,” he said. “The total statement I made [to NDTV] categorically explained that the bookies are saying this. I am not saying this.”