London: Pakistan could release any players under investigation for alleged corruption from their squad for the one-day series against England, a source in the team told Reuters.
The source, who declined to be identified, said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt, manager Yawar Saeed and one-day captain Shahid Afridi were scheduled to meet in London on Monday.
Yawar told Sky News on Sunday that police had confiscated the mobile phones of test captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif.
The trio and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were questioned by police at the team’s hotel in London following a report in a Sunday newspaper that players had been bribed to fix incidents during the fourth test against England.
The allegations centre on three no-balls from Amir and Asif which The News of the World newspaper said had been bowled by pre-arrangement.
“The meeting on Monday is important because obviously some players in the squad who are not under investigation are feeling uncomfortable with the whole situation leading up to the one-day series,” the source said.
“The prospect of releasing the players who are under investigation from the one-day squad and replacing them is under consideration and will be discussed at the meeting.”
The source said the PCB and the team management were also concerned about the mental state of the players under investigation.
Pakistan will play a practice match at Taunton in west England on Thursday and then face two Twenty20 matches and five one-day games against England starting in Cardiff on Sunday.
London metropolitan police have released on bail a man who was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers following the newspaper report.
“Following information received from The News of the World on Saturday, the Metropolitan Police Service arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers. He has since been bailed to return on a date in the future,” a spokesman said on Monday.
The newspaper report also cast doubt on the second test between Pakistan and Australia in Sydney this year when Australia made a remarkable comeback to win by 36 runs after overcoming a 206-run first-innings deficit. Neither Butt or Yawar would comment on the allegations at a news conference after the Lord’s test on Sunday.
“As a cricketer everything I have seen so far has been quite shocking to tell the truth,” Australia captain Ricky Ponting told ABC radio on Monday.
“The way we won (in Sydney) was one of the more satisfying moments that I’ve had on the cricket field. And now when some of these things come to light is when you start to slightly doubt some of the things that have happened.”
International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar pledged on Monday strong action if any player was found guilty of corruption.
“If, unfortunately, there is a truth (in the allegations) then ruthless actions will be taken,” Pawar told a news conference in Mumbai.