Pak cricket community shocked after London Police charges trio

Karachi, Feb 4 (PTI) Tainted trio of Salman Butt, MuhammadAsif and Muhammad Aamir sent more shockwaves to cricketcommunity in Pakistan after Britain''s Crown ProsecutionService decided to charge the already suspended players oftaking bribes and defraud during the England tour last year.

The news from London came hours after the PakistanCricket Board confirmed that Shahid Afridi will lead the sidein the World Cup this month.

The framing of charges came just a day before anInternational Cricket Council tribunal announces itsconclusions in the spot-fixing scandal in Doha tomorrow, whichrocked the world cricket last year. The tribunal interrogatedthe players over 45 hours in Doha last month.

Many leading players avoided comments on the sensitiveissue but those who spoke out said they were shocked by thecharges brought against Butt, Asif and Aamir.

"We were waiting to see what happens tomorrow in Doha andnow this news comes. It basically means that the cricketersnow not only face cricketing sanctions but also criminalcharges and this is really bad for the image of Pakistancricket," former captain Zaheer Abbas said.

"I really don''t know all the details right now and havejust heard about it on television. But it is a hugedisappointment and it means now we have to prepare to defendourselves on another front," Muhammad Aamir told a televisionchannel in Doha.

"Myself and my lawyer are still looking into the detailsof the announcement by the British Crown Prosecution Officeand will take it from there, but right now the important thingis the verdict announcement tomorrow," he said.

Former captain Rashid Latif said the players are now indeep trouble and would have to hire best lawyers to defendthemselves against all charges.

"Being summoned to appear in a British court oncorruption charges is a big thing and it is a sad day forPakistan cricket," Latif said.

Former pace bowler Sikander Bakht described theannouncement as a bad day for Pakistan cricket that wouldbring more problems to the three players.

"I don''t know but maybe we might now have a situationwhere the ICC tribunal decides to hold its verdict until thesecriminal charges are sorted out in March," Bakht said.

The three players have been summoned by the CrownProsecution Service to appear in a Westminister court on March17 to formally face the charges against them. (More) PTI CorrSHN

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