The first meeting between Pakistan and England since fixing allegations plunged cricket into crisis began under appropriately dark skies in Cardiff today, amid claims the International Cricket Council’s fixing inquiry had been widened to include a fourth player.
After last week charging and suspending the three players at the centre of the alleged betting scam – Test captain Salman Butt, fast bowler Mohammad Asif, and highly regarded teenager Mohammad Amir – the ICC said it would not comment further on any ongoing investigation.
It is understood that the ICC has written to Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal in connection with a separate inquiry that does not relate to the current tour. However, there is no suggestion that he is the mystery fourth player claimed to be under investigation by reports tonight.
The three players are likely to appeal against the provisional suspension imposed last week under the ICC’s code, which will see them unable to play for months while its investigation takes place.
But new claims by the News of the World that opening Test batsman Yasir Hameed had claimed fixing was rife among his teammates were immediately called into question by the player and Pakistan media outlets that said he had been asked leading questions and mistranslated.
Hameed, who did not play today and is not in the one day squad, said he had not given any interview – the exchange was filmed by an undercover reporter posing as a potential sponsor – and that he had not alleged any Pakistan player was guilty of match fixing.
“They were doing it in almost every match,” Hameed was quoted as saying. “God knows what they were up to. Scotland Yard was after them for ages.”
But Hameed said he was merely admitting that the players had discussed the allegations.
“I was approached by this guy about a deal for sticker sponsorship on my bat. It was a general discussion and I just repeated what had already been published in the News of the World,” said Hameed.
“I was tricked into this interview, I never knew they were recording it, which is a serious offence and I am talking to the Pakistan team management about it.”
The batsman was today summoned to see the Pakistan high commissioner and Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt and is believed to be considering the possibility of legal action.
The ICC could still investigate Hameed for his claim that he was approached by a middle man during the Champions Trophy in 2004, which under the commission’s code should have been reported to anti-corruption investigators.
Police interviewed the three Pakistan players, alleged to have agreed to bowl no balls at specific moments of the fourth Test at Lord’s, under caution on Friday before releasing them without condition or charge.
They are examining phone calls and text messages between the three and middle man Mazhar Majeed, as well as looking to link money found in their possession to £150,000 handed over by the News of the World. All three players maintain their innocence. Majeed was arrested and bailed a week ago – Guardian