Spot-fixing saga takes sensational turn with fresh disclosures

Spot-fixing saga takes sensational turn with fresh disclosures

London: In a sensational twist to the spot-fixing scandal, former Pakistan opener Yasir Hameed on Sunday claimed that his teammates were involved in fixing “almost every match" even as a fourth touring Pakistani player is being investigated in the scam which continues to grow in proportion.

Even before the dust could settle over the suspension of the tainted trio of Salman But, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, British tabloid News of the World, came out with more explosive revellations which has plunged the game into a major crisis.

Hameed told told the tabloid that he had been asked by a bookmaker to help fix a Test for £100,000 , but turned down the money and said his teammates were fixing almost every match.

“They’ve been caught. Only the ones that get caught are branded crooks. They were doing it (fixing) in almost every match. God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages", Hameed is quoted as saying in the sting interview which was released by the tabloid.

But within a few hours after the videos of the interview was released, Hameed denied having given any such interview, saying he could never think of accusing his teammates of fixing matches.

“I have told the team management that the newspaper is claiming that I have given them an interview. This is not correct. I deny it", he said.

After the disclosure, Hameed could face disciplinary proceedings from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for violating its anti-corruption code of conduct which states that it is an offence if a player “fails to disclose to the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (without undue delay) full details of any approaches ... that would amount to a breach of the anti-corruption code".

The tabloid also said that it will reveal how the ICC was now probing a fourth Pakistan touring player over “match- rigging claims". It is not naming this player for legal reasons.

“The three suspended Pakistan players face a staggering 23 ICC charges between them - each charge runs to six pages... Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt was warned five times about his responsibilities to report any irregular contact with outside agencies," it said.

The tabloid said its print edition will publish the “entire investigation starting in January this year including printing the transcripts of every meeting, conversation, email and text exchange".

The ICC said it would appoint an independent commissioner to look into the charges and any action would be taken on recommendation of the appointed commissioner.

ICC president Sharad Pawar said the cricket governing body has not yet punished any of the three Pakistan players allegedly involved in spot-fixing and the trio have an opportunity to put their side of story.

“We have not punished anybody yet. We have to send a notice to that particular player but that notice is not a final decision. It is a means of giving him (player) an opportunity to explain his position," Pawar told PTI in New York.

“This is not an action (the suspension), this is a sort of notice to them and an opportunity to explain. If he is not guilty then certainly he has the right to put his views," Pawar said.

The players have a right to contest this provisional suspension and a further opportunity to defend the charges at a full hearing before an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal in accordance with Article 5 of the code.

The tabloid reported that Hameed provided a “devastating insight into the shady world of betting scams" and added that he refused bribes of up to £150,000 from a corrupt bookmaker to throw matches.

Hameed claimed he lost his place in the team because of this refusal, while his corrupt colleagues reportedly splashed money on plush properties and expensive sports cars.

He spoke to the tabloid’s undercover reporter in a Nottingham hotel, it said.

It makes me angry because I’m playing my best and they are trying to lose. The guys that have got done have got themselves killed. They’re gone - forget about them,“ Hameed said about the trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Amer and Mohammad Asif.

Hameed said pacer Mohammad Asif who has played around 50 matches has built four mansions.

“Where did they come from? He has just built a house in Italian style in Lahore. You go there and you will think you are in Italy - that’s how good his house is."

“It’s because of all these wrong things that I was outed, because I wouldn’t get involved," the Pakistan opener said.

“If you sat here and said, ‘I’m a bookie and I want you to fix the match tomorrow´ - I’ve met lots of people like that in the past and I refused. They offered me handsome money."

“I could have come to see you in a Ferrari. They give you so much money that you can live out your dreams, buy a flash car. I’ve been offered huge amounts of money, up to £150,000," the cricketer said.

Since he would not get involved in all these, Hameed claimed: “That’s why I was out of the team for two years - two years! Now God has punished them. I played in the (Lord’s) match. Even though I flopped, these guys have been caught out".

The cricketer goes on to say that he would have been the captain of a team if he had played for any other country.

“Just look at my average. It’s 38, 39 (runs scored per innings). Which player in the world has that average and is dropped? If I was playing for any other country, what would I be now? I’d be the team captain."

“The truth is I’ve never sold a match for Pakistan. I’ve always got by on legitimate money. I come from a middle-class hard-working family," Hameed, who played 25 Tests and 56 ODIs, said.

He also claimed that another game had been thrown.

“The ICC Champion Trophy, Rose Bowl, we lost a match against West Indies, do you remember?"

The match in question is a semi-final game in 2004 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton. The West Indies won the match by seven wickets despite posting just 132 runs after Pakistan ended 131 all out.

But in a bizarre u-turn, the 32-year-old Hameed completely denied having given the interview. “I am deeply disturbed. There is no truth in that report. I have never spoken to them. I cant even think of accusing my teammates".

Meanwhile, PCB officials, Pakistan envoy to UK and members of team management huddled for a emergency meeting to take stock of the developments.

Team sources said the meeting was being held in view of the revelations to be made today by the newspaper and the effect they would have on Pakistan cricket.

“Pakistan’s High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan is also involved in the meeting as is the Chairman of the board Ijaz Butt," the source said.

Former captain Aamir Sohail said Pakistan cricket was facing one of its worst crisis and unfortunately the board was unable to handle the situation properly.

“They have mishandled it from the start and instead of going on the offensive against the ICC have been passive. The ICC should be questioned how this spot fixing issue has happened when Rashid Latif in 2003 warned them to be careful and was willing to work on the anti-corruption unit."