LONDON The International Cricket Council's suspension of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt on corruption charges is “unhelpful, premature and unnecessary,” Pakistan's high commissioner in Britain said on Friday.
Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan said cricket's ruling body should not have acted until investigations by the police and its own anti-corruption unit were complete.
Hasan, who met with the players for three hours in London on Thursday, reiterated his belief that bowlers Asif and Amir and Test captain Butt are innocent of conspiring with bookmakers in a betting scam.
“There is a live police inquiry which takes precedence over both the ICC, civil or regulatory investigation and indeed any internal disciplinary investigation,” Hasan said in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “To take action now is unhelpful, premature and unnecessary considering the players had already voluntarily withdrawn from playing.”
The ICC charged the players with corruption late Thursday. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat and Ronnie Flanagan, the chairman of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, are set to explain the decision at a news conference later Friday.
The suspensions followed allegations by a British newspaper that Amir and Asif deliberately bowled no-balls at predetermined points in last week's fourth test against England.
Amir, Asif and Butt were expected to be questioned by police on Friday. They were first questioned late Saturday when the allegations were made public and had their mobile phones confiscated.
The ICC provisionally barred the players from all forms of cricket pending a resolution of charges of “various offences” under the sport's anti-corruption code.
“We will not tolerate corruption in cricket - simple as that,” Lorgat said in a statement. “We must be decisive with such matters and, if proven, these offences carry serious penalties up to a life ban. The ICC will do everything possible to keep such conduct out of the game, and we will stop at nothing to protect the sport's integrity. While we believe the problem is not widespread, we must always be vigilant.”
The ICC said the players have 14 days to decide if they want a hearing.
“It is important, however, that we do not prejudge the guilt of these three players,” Lorgat said. “That is for the independent tribunal alone to decide.”
Butt, Amir and Asif had earlier missed their teams warm-up match against county side Somerset to meet with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Hasan in London.