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    Pak players face bleak future

    Tough message was handed to Pakistan at an ICC meeting of executive directors Cape Town on Monday.

    Colombo: While there are former Test captains, Australia's Mark Taylor among them, who don't want Pakistan banned, certain ICC Test nations may do just that until the discredited board and players clean up their act.

    In a tough message handed to Pakistan at an ICC meeting of executive directors Cape Town on Monday, five of the Test playing nations, including India, have issued a warning that Pakistan may be isolated, as was South Africa (for 20 years because of the racial apartheid laws), until certain criteria are met.

    Already England, seen as offering a neutral venue, have closed a small window of opportunity next year when it was thought that as part of the Sri Lanka tour, three 50 ODIs and a T20 game would be played that would involve Pakistan. But now England have turned their back on this project. It was only a proposal and nothing was confirmed an ECB source has said.

    The ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, who headed an ICC Pakistan Task Group, feels that the ECB have been badly betrayed by Pakistan and the Luddite behaviour of PCB chairman, the egomaniac Ijaz Butt. In the light of the spot fixing issue, there is a seriously uncomfortable feeling if any of the current players banned by the ICC while the match-fixing probe is in progress, are allowed to play again.

    Wahab Raiz is to be interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives looking into the spot fixing scam exposed by a tabloid News of the World. It has also emerged that police and revenue authorities in England have been working undercover for some months on the case of the two Majeed brothers, who are seen as only part of a deeper criminal investigation involving United Arab Emirate based underworld links that infiltrated the IPL held in South Africa last year.

    It is also learnt that Pakistan Cricket Board authorities late last year ignored warnings by former players and administrators that Mazhar Majeed was part of a syndicate of illegal bookies which had links to underworld sources that threatened families in Pakistan.

    Now New Zealand are threatening to look elsewhere for a team to replace Pakistan who are supposed to tour there in December and January. It is believed that New Zealand Cricket are hopeful that the ICC will be able to issue a statement soon on the Pakistan issue. The Kiwi public view Pakistan as a tainted side and trying to sell future tours outside Asia will run into major financial market issues.

    Meanwhile, the excos at the Cape Town meeting at Newlands, have been bluntly told how the hasty decision to shut down the King Commission ten years in 2000, during the first probe in player malpractice with the former South African captain Hansie Cronje under investigation, has enabled the illegal bookies to survive.

    "It has been a serious warning and the bookies went for the weakest link, a country where players were badly paid," said an ECB official. "This was Pakistan. The ICC lost sight of the problem and we are now faced with a problem where underworld elements were involved in trying to rig games during the second IPL when it was held in South Africa, with the knowledge of the IPL."