Karachi: Pakistan's cricket community expressed hope on Thursday that by withdrawing match-fixing accusations against England, national cricket chairman Ijaz Butt can help repair ill-feeling between the two countries.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman had claimed England players were paid "enormous amounts of money" to lose The Oval match in a series the hosts ultimately won 3-2. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) threatened legal action in response unless Butt "unreservedly" apologised for remarks that he said at the time were merely repeating something he'd heard from bookmakers.
The apology came on Wednesday after Butt met ECB chairman Giles Clarke. "Everyone will appreciate the withdrawal," former Pakistani captain Zaheer Abbas told AFP. "I hope the latest development will minimise the damage done to the relationship of both the countries."
Abbas also hoped the ECB would continue to help Pakistan host international cricket, given the security concerns that have prevented play at home since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009. But he said Butt's credibility had been compromised.
"I think his image is gone and he should have thought before levelling those serious allegations. After all, Butt is holding a senior and important position in a country's cricket board," said Abbas.
Former chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed accused Butt of degrading Pakistani cricket. "He shouldn't have said this in the first place and those allegations put him in a shameful position," said Ahmed. "He has taken another U-turn after taking so many of his decisions and statements back during his tenure."
Previous about-turns have included rescinding bans and fines against several players in March this year, imposed following a disastrous tour of Australia. All but one of seven players banned and fined for disciplinary violations have had their bans overturned and fines halved.
Ahmed said Butt's tenure had tarnished Pakistan's image. "Pakistan's name in the cricket world was not stained as much in history as in this set-up of the PCB and after this England episode, our heads are bowed in shame," said Ahmed.
Pakistan's latest tour of England was marred by spot-fixing scandals. Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after they were accused of taking money from a bookmaker to deliberately bowl no-balls in last month's Lord's Test.
The ICC then launched a separate inquiry into The Oval one-day after a tip-off from British newspaper The Sun, which claimed Pakistan's scoring pattern in the match was pre-arranged with bookmakers.