England slam 'defamatory' match-fixing claims
England cricketers ready to take legal action after Pakistan boss's accusations
The England cricket team and the ECB have reacted angrily to allegations of corruption made by the Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman, Ijaz Butt, calling them "defamatory" and "wholly irresponsible".
Today's match between with Pakistan will still take place, despite England having "serious misgivings".
England Captain Andrew Strauss expressed the "surprise, dismay and outrage" felt by the team in the wake of the claims, and explained that they would be "exploring all legal options open to us".
The ECB took a similarly tough stance and threatened that it would take "all legal and disciplinary action" possible after Butt's comments.
Butt had accused England cricketers of throwing the third one-day international at the Oval last Friday, alleging they took "enormous" sums of money to lose the match.
In a television interview, Butt said: "There is loud and clear talk in the bookies circle that some English players were paid enormous amounts of money to lose the match. No wonder there was a total collapse of the English side."
But when asked if he had any proof of the allegations regarding English players, he said: "Did you ask the other people who made allegations against our players whether they had proof? What did they say? We have thought about this properly and we have positive proofs here before us just like they say they have also."
However, the International Cricket Council confirmed yesterday that no England players were under investigation.
The ICC have launched an inquiry into the match, which Pakistan won by 23 runs after England lost five wickets for 17 runs, because it received a tip-off from the /Sun/ newspaper that run rates during certain parts of the Pakistan innings broadly corresponded to predictions made by bookmakers.
Andy Flower, the England coach, admitted on Sunday that relations between the teams had been strained by the crisis and the tension will have only been increased by Butt's comments.
England captain Andrew Strauss, commenting before Butt made his claims, said the series cannot end quickly enough.
"All the players will be relieved when the series is over and done with," he said.
England face Pakistan at Lord's on Tuesday for the fourth one-day international. ·
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