Cricket: ICC chief confident spot-fixing won't tarnish WC

International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat says an upcoming verdict on spot-fixing allegations against three Pakistan players will not tarnish the World Cup.

"There's some time between when the verdict is released .... we were keen to have it well before the start of the World Cup," Lorgat said Saturday.

An anti-corruption tribunal against Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer ended last week with no decision and a verdict was deferred to Feb. 5.

The trio was alleged to have accepted payments for bowling no-balls at prearranged times in the fourth test against England at Lord's at the end of August so as to fix spot betting markets. England won by an innings and 225 runs, handing Pakistan its worst test defeat. Within days, Butt, Asif and Amir - named Pakistan's player of the series - were suspended by the ICC and charged with corruption.

However, the tribunal acquitted Asif and Amir of all charges relating to the third test at The Oval and Butt of all but one charge. The charges had never been made public until last week, and the tribunal did not say what the trio was accused of doing in that match. Pakistan won that test by four wickets.

The World Cup begins in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Feb. 19 and Lorgat said the subcontinent will be ready, although five grounds have yet to be completed.

The final is scheduled to be played at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on April 2, although the venue is still a building site.

"Five stadia are still to be completed but there are no alarm bells ringing and I'm sure they will be ready well before the World Cup," Lorgat told a media conference in Melbourne on Saturday.

Mumbai will host two group matches on March 13 and 17 in addition to the final. Calcutta will host four group matches, the first on Feb. 27 between India and England.

Both venues missed the original deadline for construction of Nov. 30, and the ICC ordered faster progress so the stadiums will be ready for handover to the ICC on Jan. 31.

Criticism of the slow construction was similar to the buildup to the New Delhi Commonwealth Games last October, when officials raced to the last minute to prepare venues and accommodation.

- AP

- NZ Herald

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