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Monday , September 20 , 2010
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Andy wants series to be called off

London: Bewildered after the latest match-fixing allegations against Pakistani cricketers, England coach Andy Flower and former captain Alec Stewart have demanded that the series between the two sides be immediately called off.

Flower admitted Saturday night that his team’s achievement against Pakistan this summer have been diluted by the succession of corruption allegations against their opponents.

The 42-year-old Zimbabwean confessed to being ‘saddened, frustrated and bewildered’ by the latest claims to hit the most tainted cricket tour in history.

But while former England captain Michael Vaughan joined those calling for the rest of Pakistan’s matches to be called off, cricket’s rulers insisted that with none of the allegations proved, they had no reason to abandon the remaining matches between the sides at Lord’s Monday and Hampshire’s Rose Bowl on Wednesday.

Flower, who gained international respect when as a player he stood up to Robert Mugabe’s corrupt regime in his homeland, said the allegations against Pakistan forced people to question England’s achievements against them this summer.

“It devalues our Test series and it is devaluing this one-day series,” he said. “It supplants the story of the game with the controversy of allzeged cheating. There is also the suspicion that some of what has been going on wasn’t how it should be. Our performances are devalued by that.”

Flower also conceded that relations between the sides had been affected by the controversy, which hit a new low Saturday when claims were made over what the International Cricket Council described as ‘scoring patterns’ during Pakistan’s victory over England in the third one-day International on Friday.

“I don’t want to go into detail, but things like this will affect the relationship between the sides, in general terms,” said Flower.

Stewart said if the allegations that the ‘scoring patterns’ in the third England-Pakistan ODI was fixed are true, then there is no point in continuing the series.

“If the latest allegations about spot-fixing in Friday’s game can be proved to be true, or there’s enough evidence, I don’t see how the tour can continue,” he said.

“The credibility of international cricket is on the line here and it’s important that the ECB make a stand. I appreciate it’s a tough stance. We have to be certain that Pakistan players were playing to orders from outside agencies.

“But, if that was the case, I see no alternative but to end the tour as soon as possible. The England players can’t be expected to take part in a match that is so badly flawed,” he added

The ICC, world cricket’s governing body, launched an inquiry into the new claims but insisted the tour must be played out to the sorry end.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sought assurances from the ICC over the nature of the latest claims and whether they might lead to the suspension of players before the end of the one-day series. Once they were assured that the ICC inquiry would deal only with Pakistan players and not England’s, the ECB decided the tour had to continue as planned.

An ECB statement said that ‘the ICC are not stating as fact that anything untoward has occurred nor has yet been proven’ and added: “Until the ICC substantiates that any allegations are correct, no further action can be taken.”

But with ticket sales for the remaining contests, poor as Hampshire, offer two-for one deals for the final game, cricket lovers look to be past caring. (Agencies)

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