(REUTERS) – The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) anti-corruption unit has been asked to submit a report within the next three days on an investigation into alleged corruption within the Pakistan team. British police have confiscated the mobile phones of Test captain Salman Butt and pace bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif after a newspaper report alleging players had been bribed to fix incidents in the fourth Test against England.
Tour manager Yawar Saeed said the trio plus wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal had been questioned by police at the team’s London hotel.
ICC president Sahrad Pawar told reporters yesterday the issue had been discussed in a teleconference which included the head of the council’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit Ravi Sawani, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and his English counterpart Giles Clarke.
“We at the ICC are waiting for definite information from the PCB and our own anti-corruption unit. We hope to get something in the next two to three days’ time and that information would lead to appropriate action, if required,” he said.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in a statement that anti-corruption officials were assisting London metropolitan police with their separate criminal investigation.
“Make no mistake, once the process is complete, if any players are found to be guilty, the ICC will ensure that the appropriate punishment is handed out. We will not tolerate corruption in this great game,” Lorgat said.
Yesterday the police said they had released on bail a 35-year-old man who had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers following the report in The News of the World newspaper.
According to the report Mazhar Majeed, an agent who claimed to represent 10 Pakistan players including Butt, said Amir and Asif had bowled three no-balls between them by pre-arrangement in the fourth Test against England which finished on Sunday.
Pawar ruled out the possibility of Pakistan cutting short their tour of England.
“It is the desire of the ICC and the cricket boards of England and Pakistan that the game should continue,” he said.
The team arrived in Taunton in west England yesterday where they will play a warm-up game against Somerset on Thursday before starting a seven-match one-day series against England from Sunday.
A source in the team told Reuters Pakistan could release any player who was under investigation. The one-day team is led by Shahid Afridi who was scheduled to have talks with Butt and manager Yawar Saeed yesterday.
“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,” said the source, who declined to identified.
“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 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.
The scandal has outraged cricket fans in Pakistan where protesters in Lahore slapped donkeys with shoes and pelted them with rotten tomatoes yesterday.
Protesters led a procession of donkeys with the names of the players accused of taking bribes stuck on the foreheads of the animals.
“These players have let us and the country down. We are already facing so many problems because of the floods and terrorism and they took away our one source of happiness,” one protester told a television channel.