Cricket: Pakistan claim England accepted bribes to lose
England players were last night accused of taking "enormous" sums of money to lose Friday's third one-day international against Pakistan as the match-fixing scandal put cricketing relations between the two countries at breaking point.
The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt, made the claim in a television interview during which he also promised to make public the names of those involved in a "conspiracy" against Pakistan.
England coach Andy Flower admitted on Saturday that relations between the teams had been strained by the crisis. Expect a frosty atmosphere at Lord's for today's clash.
Butt was reacting to an International Cricket Council (ICC) investigation -- prompted by an article in 'The Sun' launched on Saturday into the scoring patterns during Pakistan's victory over England at the Oval the previous evening.
The investigation is aimed at Pakistan players -- it was confirmed yesterday that no England player was suspected of being involved in alleged spot-fixing.
But Butt insisted: "There is loud and clear talk in the bookies' circle that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose the match. No wonder there was total collapse of the English side.
"This is not a conspiracy to defraud bookies, but a conspiracy to defraud Pakistan and Pakistan cricket. We will shortly reveal the names of the people, parties and bodies involved in this sinister conspiracy.
"We feel the media in certain countries is biased. August cricket bodies are also involved in this conspiracy, which will damage the great game of cricket."
England have offered Pakistan a 'home from home' this summer, but the various spot-fixing scandals have severely damaged relations between the sides.
England captain Andrew Strauss, speaking yesterday before Butt's outburst, demanded the ICC take strong action if the allegations against Pakistan were proven.
"If it is not dealt with strictly now it never will be," he said. "Clearly we have to find out if there is actual guilt or not, but the ICC has a responsibility to the game of cricket to make sure that when there are 22 players turning up to play everyone is striving equally hard to win the game.
"The last thing I want to happen is for things to be swept under the carpet. It will be worse each time these things come up."
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis (left), protested his side's innocence with regard to the latest accusations, citing as evidence the fact that they won on Friday.
"I don't know what to do. If you win you are a fixer. If you lose you are a fixer," Waqar said.
But at no stage have Pakistan been accused of losing a match on purpose. This is about spot-fixing -- the prediction of a score during a bracket of overs.
There are still two games to go in this one-day series, but both sides are desperate for it to end.