London: Cricket’s governing body vowed on Friday to do whatever necessary to root out cheats and preserve the integrity of the game after suspending three Pakistan players over match fixing allegations.
“I would like to express my extreme disappointment and sadness at what has happened,” International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat told a news conference.
“We have been clear that we will not tolerate any sort of corruption in the sport and upholding the integrity of cricket is paramount and fundamental to every single one of us.
“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure we maintain integrity in the sport.”
Pakistan test captain Salman Butt and opening bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif were charged on Thursday under the ICC’s anti-corruption code and were provisionally suspended from all forms of cricket and related activities until the case is concluded.
The three players had their mobile phones confiscated as part of a police investigation following allegations in a British newspaper that they took bribes to fix incidents in the final test against England at Lord’s last week.
The News of the World alleged that Amir and Asif had bowled deliberate no-balls by pre-arrangement.
Pakistan high commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan criticized the ICC’s decision to suspend the players after the three had already voluntarily withdrawn from the Pakistan squad earlier on Thursday.
The rest of the Pakistan team played a one-day warmup game against Somerset in Taunton on Thursday, and are due to play Twenty20 matches against England in Cardiff on Sunday and Tuesday.
In recent years Pakistan have faced ball-tampering accusations, doping scandals, security problems and dressing-room intrigues but Lorgat was keen to stress the ICC remained supportive of Pakistani cricket.
“I can assure you there is absolutely no truth to the position that there is a conspiracy against Pakistan cricket,” Lorgat said.
“On the contrary, we are seeking to ensure that Pakistan continue to play international cricket, albeit at neutral venues.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) disciplined seven players in March, banning some and fining others, after an inquiry blamed infighting within the team for the poor performance on tour in Australia.
“Our view was that, yes, it was a dysfunctional tour,” said the ICC’s anti-corruption chief Ronnie Flanagan, who joined Lorgat on the stage at Friday’s packed news conference at Lord’s.
“Yes there were things that went on that were not in the spirit of the game. But what we have no evidence of were that those things that went on were for financial gain. There were a lot of other things that went on.”