Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ijaz Butt has promised to co-operate fully with all investigations arising from the spot-fixing scandal that tainted his country’s recent tour of England, as he arrived back here on Wednesday following a bridge-building trip to London.
During the visit, he apologised to the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, for claiming that England’s cricketers had accepted a bribe to lose last month’s third ODI at The Oval. In a statement issued on his return to Pakistan on Wednesday, Ijaz said that the cricket world ‘is reeling from a storm of allegations and rumours’, but sought to distance himself from the allegations that he himself had perpetuated by claiming that his reference to ‘loud and clear talk in bookie circles’ regarding England’s cricketers had merely been an attempt to point out that Pakistan is not the only country under suspicion.
“Many of these recent allegations have concerned the Pakistan cricket team, and these must and will be properly investigated,” said Ijaz. “But, and this was my point, the problem, and the rumours, are not confined to any single country. Those of us who care about the state of cricket in the world today will not flinch from a thorough, uncompromising investigation of any such allegations and rumours, whether they concern Pakistan or any other cricketing nation, and we at the PCB will give any such investigation our fullest cooperation and support.”
Ijaz’s future as PCB chairman is under intense scrutiny as he approaches the second anniversary of his appointment, with several influential figures, calling for a shake-up of the PCB hierarchy. Furthermore, in casting aspersions on the integrity of England’s cricketers, Ijaz succeeded in alienating Pakistan’s most significant allies in the world game, given that Clarke is also the head of an ICC task force investigating the feasibility of the return of international cricket to the country. Ijaz, however, reiterated that he had corrected the ‘misunderstanding’ during his meetings with the ECB, and felt confident that his personal relationship with the chairman had been restored. “We are very pleased with the outcome of this recent visit to London. While I was there I had a positive and productive meeting with Mr. Giles Clarke who has consistently shown himself to be a good friend to Pakistan cricket. This allowed us to address a variety of concerns, and to correct any misunderstandings which may have arisen. In particular, I was happy to correct the misunderstanding that I, or anyone at the PCB had made any allegations about members of the England cricket team. The point which I have sought to make from the beginning was that the world of cricket is reeling from a storm of allegations and rumors, and these must be addressed. I say again, we at the PCB have no specific evidence of any wrongdoing by cricketers from England. Our priority and our responsibility must be the actions of the Pakistan team. These are quite properly subject now to an investigation by both Scotland Yard and the ICC. But we will work with our colleagues at the ICC, and with all those involved with cricket administration around the world, to ensure that this game which we all love continues to be played in a spirit of honesty, fairness and sportsmanship. I am very glad that we have been able to resolve this misunderstanding with our friends in English cricket. We have all agreed to put this behind us now, and to concentrate on working together for the good of the game.”