Trio - We are innocent
Butt, Amir and Asif to miss one-dayers
Last Updated: September 2, 2010 6:29pm
Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif will take no part in the remainder of Pakistan's tour of England, apparently at their own request.
"They (Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif) mentioned they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such. They further maintain that on account of the mental torture that has deeply affected them all, they are not in the right frame of mind to play in the remaining matches."
Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan Quotes of the week
The trio are at the centre of spot-fixing allegations made in the News of the World but maintain they are innocent and have vowed to clear their names.
All three attended a meeting with Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt and Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan in London on Thursday as part of the PCB's internal probe into the claims.
"The three players have said they are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week, especially with regard to their alleged involvement in the crime," said Hasan after the talks.
"They mentioned they are entirely innocent in the whole episode and shall defend their innocence as such.
"They further maintain that on account of the mental torture that has deeply affected them all, they are not in the right frame of mind to play in the remaining matches.
"Therefore they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not consider them for the remaining matches until their names are cleared."
Pakistan are playing a 50-over warm-up match against Somerset at Taunton on Thursday and, prior to the start of play, team manager Yawar Saeed had confirmed the three players would not be taking part in the two T20s and five ODIs against England.
"The T20 squad will remain what it is here this morning, i.e. 13 people," Saeed said.
"When we play the one-day internationals we will be asking for replacements to make the squad up to 16.
"The (three) players have not been suspended."
The England and Wales Cricket Board are believed to have lobbied hard for Butt, Amir and Asif to be dropped - on behalf of a home squad reluctant to take the field against those under suspicion.
A plausible reason for their absence was, therefore, required to ensure the tour continued - and that was duly delivered by Hasan with his explanation that the players themselves had asked to be omitted due to the "mental torture" of recent days.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke made it clear his organisation are happy with the latest turn of events.
"The England and Wales Cricket Board welcomes the announcement of the Pakistan Cricket Board's squad for the Natwest T20 and NatWest ODI series," said Clarke.
Butt, Amir and Asif were interviewed by police during the Lord's Test and had their mobile phones confiscated as Scotland Yard tried to get to the bottom of claims the Pakistanis bowled no-balls to order as part of a betting scam.
Croydon-based businessman Mazhar Majeed, 35, was arrested at the weekend but released on bail without charge following police questioning.
Pakistan are scheduled to play England in two T20s, both in Cardiff, on September 5 and 7, followed by five ODIs from September 10-22.
Speaking later on Thursday, Hasan also cast doubt on the authenticity of evidence presented by the News of the World.
He questioned whether or not the paper's tapes of Majeed, apparently correctly identifying the exact time the no-balls would occur, should be taken at face value.
Hasan said: "We are not seeing on the video what the date is or what the time is.
"The video wasn't timed or dated. It could have been filmed before or after the match, or at a different time."
Asked if he believes the three players might have been "set up", he responded: "Yes, I would say that. Yes."
In reponse, a News of the World spokesman said the tabloid will "refuse to respond to such ludicrous allegations".
The spokesman also advised to "watch this space" - a hint the paper might make more allegations this weekend.
The tourists' preparations suffered a further blow when Umar Akmal was hit in the face while batting in the Taunton nets on Thursday morning.
Akmal received medical attention after the ball apeared to go through his helmet grille. The injury was not thought to be serious but he was left out of the starting XI to face Somerset.