Three Pakistan players embroiled in betting scam allegations headed to London on Wednesday to face questioning which is almost certain to sideline them from the team’s tour of England.
Test captain Salman Butt plus bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif look set to miss match with county side Somerset in Taunton on Thursday, a warm-up match before their limited overs internationals against England.
The trio, all casually dressed, left the team hotel in Taunton at 11:12am (1012 GMT) accompanied by team security officer Major Khawaja Najam, flanked by private security guards and police officers.
Butt shook his head when asked by a reporter if he was “guilty”.
The trio were due to face questions from Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s high commissioner (ambassador) to Britain, in London on Thursday.
“The boys are leaving today (Wednesday). They will have a meeting at the High Commission (Embassy) tomorrow (Thursday),” team manager Yawar Saeed had earlier told reporters.
It appears increasingly likely the trio will play no further part in the tour amid mounting calls for the trio to be barred from appearing while the probe into the allegations is ongoing.
Following the Somerset warm-up, Pakistan play two Twenty20 matches against England in Cardiff on Sunday and Tuesday, then five one-day internationals.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has promised “prompt and decisive action” if the “spot-fixing” allegations linked to betting rings made by Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper are proven.
Its chief executive Haroon Lorgat hopes there will be “some sort of conclusion” to the probe within the next few days.
England’s players meanwhile are reportedly reluctant to line up against a Pakistan team containing the tainted trio, according to Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive Angus Porter.