Pakistan's tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir will face another round of questioning from the Scotland Yard for their alleged involvement in the 'spot-fixing' scandal that has rocked international cricket.
Meanwhile, England's Players' body demanded the trio's ouster from the Twenty20 and ODI series.
The trio, which has been implicated in the scandal after a sting operation by a British tabloid, is set to be quizzed by the Scotland Yard for the second time but they are not in danger of being arrested, a Pakistan Cricket Board official said.
Their meeting with Pakistan High Commission officials here has, however, been postponed to Thursday. ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat will meet PCB chief Ijaz Butt as scheduled in London today to discuss the scandal that has plunged the game into a crisis.
The trio will now miss Pakistan's practice match against Somerset starting tomorrow as that will clash with their meeting with PCB and High Commission officials at the High Commission here.
"The trio of captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif had been due to meet PCB chairman Ijaz Butt and the country's High Commissioner in London today. But it has emerged that the talks have been put back and now clash with the team's next fixture, which gets underway on Thursday," 'Sky News' reported.
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed had yesterday said that the three would only face a PCB internal inquiry at the High Commission in London but it has now emerged that they will be questioned by Scotland Yard. He said no player has been charged as yet nor any case registered against them and they are available for the forthcoming Twenty20 and one-day series.
"As it stands now, the players have only been questioned by Scotland Yard. No one has been charged neither has Scotland Yard found any incriminating evidence against any player," a PCB official said. "We have hired a barrister to assist the players and will be present when they meet with Scotland Yard detectives on Wednesday. The questioning is part of routine investigation but all the players who are being questioned are available for selection and play in the coming series," he added.
The Pakistan High Commission has also asked the Scotland Yard to provide it with a preliminary report on the investigations. The investigations are still on but England's Professional Cricketers Association wants the three to be dropped immediately so that the remaining tour does not become a "sideshow" to the murky scandal.
PCA chief executive Angus Porter said England players want the International Cricket Council to take decisive action before Sunday's Twenty20 International at Cardiff. "The England players understand it is important the games go ahead and they will be professional but they would or will find it really difficult to play against the guys directly implicated," Porter said.
"Our strong feeling is a way needs to be found to ensure that they are either suspended or, if that is not possible, some other solution is found so that they do not play," he was quoted as saying by 'Daily Telegraph'. "They have not said so but I suspect they are getting frustrated (by the delay) but after the conversations I have had with them everybody agrees we want to see strong, decisive and appropriate action taken to address this complex issue. We have to take it seriously. There can't be any fudging," he said.
Kamran Akmal, the wicketkeeper whose name also figured in the "expose" by British tabloid 'News of the World', remains part of the squad to face Somerset. Scotland Yard on Tuesday announced that Akmal was no longer a part of their investigation. In another development, a senior official of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit has reached Pakistan in connection with the ongoing investigations.
Television channels reported that Reza Hasan, who is on the ICC ACSU, was in Pakistan to meet Federal Investigation Agency officials and also gather information from Veena Malik, the former girlfriend of Mohammad Asif, one of the tainted players. "Reza Hasan will also interview film actress and model, Veena Malik a former girlfriend of pace bowler Mohammad Asif," one channel said. Veena Malik, in a television interview, had claimed that she had evidence of links between Asif and an Indian bookmaker and that the Sydney Test between Pakistan and Australia was fixed. The murky saga also continued to unfold in Australia with fresh reports emerging of an Indian bookmaker making approaches to fast bowlers Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson during the Ashes in England last year. All-rounder Shane Watson and wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin had revealed on Tuesday that they were approached by a bookmaker in England during the Ashes and Australian team manager Steve Bernard today said the same man also approached Lee and Johnson during that time. Lee, Johnson and Watson had passed on the mobile phone number of the alleged bookmaker who approached the trio during the Ashes in London last year, a report in the "Daily Telegraph' said. Subscribe to SCHOLARS CLUB