ICC quizzes paceman Akhtar

Lahore, April 8:

An International Cricket Council (ICC) investigator has questioned banned fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar over his claims that he was offered money to throw matches, Pakistani sources said on Tuesday.

Akthar, 32, was banned for five years a week ago for criticising the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). He later alleged that that he had refused offers of bribes to underperform in international games.

“Alan Peacock of the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) interviewed Akhtar and some other players on Sunday and will make recommendations to the ICC over any further action,” a PCB source said. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not identify the other players.

Pakistan’s representative in the ACSU, retired colonel Nuruddin Khawaja, assisted Peacock in the investigation, said the sources. Akhtar in a TV interview last week claimed he was offered and refused money to throw matches during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and in India. He did not say when the alleged Indian incident happened.

The claims came after the PCB banned him over a series of code of conduct breaches, including publicly criticising the board for not giving him a central contract. He was already on two months’ probation for hitting team-mate Mohammad Asif with a cricket bat. The ICC said last week that it had a “zero tolerance” policy on allegations of fixing.

“The ACSU which has taken notice of Akhtar’s comments and since the ICC has a zero tolerance on this, Akhtar will be interviewed by officials,” ICC spokesman Samiul Hasan said last week. “We do not comment on the ACSU’s movements but it will be done in due course.”

The spectre of match-fixing has haunted cricket since the Australian trio of Shane Warne, Tim May and Mark Waugh accused Pakistan captain Salim Malik of offering money to underperform on Australia’s tour in 1994. Malik was subsequently banned by a match-fixing commission headed by Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum — now Pakistan’s attorney general — in 2000.

Paceman Ata-ur Rehman was also banned for life on charges of perjury but his ban was overturned in 2006. Six other Pakistan cricketers including former captains Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq were also fined. South African captain Hansie Cronje and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin were also banned for life after match-fixing inquiries in their respective countries.

That forced the ICC to form an anti-corruption unit (later transformed into the ACSU) with former London police chief Paul Condon as its head in 2000.