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Kent coach demands: "Suspend accused spot-fixing players for good of game"

PUBLISHED: 19:53 31 August 2010 | UPDATED: 12:47 01 September 2010

Umar Akmal of Pakistan hits out watched by wicketkeeper Matt Prior of England during day four of the 4th npower Test Match between England and Pakistan at Lord's on August 29  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Umar Akmal of Pakistan hits out watched by wicketkeeper Matt Prior of England during day four of the 4th npower Test Match between England and Pakistan at Lord's on August 29 (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

2010 Getty Images

A TOP Kent County Cricket Club coach is calling for the Pakistan cricketers accused of cheating to be suspended for the "good of the game," pending a police investigation.

Performance director and Kentish Times columnist, Simon Willis, urged for tough action after police questioned four players at the Pakistan team’s hotel in London on Sunday following a claim that some players had been bribed to fix incidents during the fourth Test against England at Lord’s.

The allegations centre on three no-balls from Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif which a tabloid newspaper claimed had been bowled on purpose at pre-determined times in a spot-betting coups after a “middle man” accepted £150,000 in cash from an undercover reporter.

The duo alongside Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal have all been questioned by police, although Akmal is no longer part of that investigation, following the alleged incidents leading up to the weekend.

Mr Willis who often trains the team at the club’s Beckenham base said: “The bottom line is it’s not good for the game, any negative atttention is not good. That’s the biggest issue here, we don’t want a situation where the spectators, players and sponsors don’t want to be associated with the game.

“It’s allegations like this that tend to discourage people being involved so it’s hugely disapointing and damaging for the game. What we want to see is cricket on the back pages of newspapers for positive reasons not the front pages for negative reasons.”

HM Revenue and Customs said on Tuesday that a man and a woman, both aged 35 from Croydon and a 49-year-old from Wembley have been arrested and bailed in relation to an “ongoing money laundering operation.” The International Cricket Council (ICC) has said that Pakistan’s tour of England should carry on and it is preparing a report, with the results expected within a couple of days.

“The games have got to continue until the allegations, the guys involved, are proved innocent or guilty,” said Mr Willis. “The players [accused of spot-fixing] should be suspended and other players take their place for the rest of the tour.

“The game needs to show that it is positive to the rest of the world. If you cancel the one-day series you just prolong the negative publicity.

“You want it to be a vibrant game, but we’ve seen many allegations over the years that cannot be healthy for the sport. I know the ICC are trying to make it as clean a sport as possible.

“I’ve never been approached for anything like that (match fixing/ spot-fixing) and I hope I never do. It’s not something that I’ve ever come across in Kent.

“The governing bodies are there to do what is in the best interest of the game and I’m sure that if and when the time comes, they will make the right decisions.”

Paul Farbrace is Kent County Cricket Club head coach and former assistant coach of the Sri Lanka national team.

He said: “It doesn’t look good and it’s a shame that cricket is in the news for what could be all the wrong reasons as opposed to talking about great test matches and England winning a test series, it’s a shame that the focus is on something negative when we want the sport talked about in a positive light.”

Pakistan’s team manager Yawar Saeed told reporters at a press conference: “No allegations are true til they are proved. So at this point in time they are just allegations.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board continued its own enquiry yesterday (1).

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